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Torrent of support swells as Unfunded Mandates Day approaches.

October 27 has been designated as National Unfunded Mandates Day to call attention to the inequities of the federal government passing laws and shifting the cost to state and local government.

Starting as drops of rain in cities and counties across America, the concern over unfunded federal mandates has grown into a torrential waterfall cascading down on the Congress and Administration. Not since Federal Revenue Sharing has there been such unanimity on an issue among local elected officials as there is on the concern over unfunded federal mandates.

The support for this initiative has grown quickly and includes more than just the members of NLC, the National Association of Counties, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the International City/County Management Association. The leadership of the National Governors' Association and National Conference of State Legislatures as well as other organizations such as the National Association of School Boards, National Association of Towns and Townships, and Government Finance Officers Association have signed onto the effort as well.

All of our organizations have been working to encourage members at the local level to help citizens understand the consequences of unfunded federal mandates on choices and allocation of resources at the local level.

Even as we look forward to October 27, the message is already being heard loud and clear here in Washington, as evidenced by recent actions on Capitol Hill. Former local elected officials now serving in the House and Senate, along with others, have introduced a wide range of bills to address this issue.

In a very short period of time, an unfunded mandates caucus in the Congress has grown, led by Congressman Gary Condit, to more than 100 members. The membership of the caucus is still growing--all this before our national kick-off effort on unfunded mandates.

Former local government officials including Senators Dirk Kempthorne, Judd Gregg, Carl Levin and Carol Moseley-Braun and Representatives Jim Moran, Gary Condit and Christopher Shays have introduced legislation addressing unfunded federal mandates.

Through Nation's Cities Weekly, we have been providing a background series of articles addressing unfunded mandates from a variety of perspectives. In addition, we have created and mailed out a packet of informational materials for mayors across the country. It includes questions and answers on unfunded mandates, a draft resolution which can be used by city councils, and draft language for op ed pieces for the media.

State municipal leagues, too, have organized efforts and numerous local governments have adopted resolutions and indicated their intention to organize media events on October 27 to help increase the public's understanding of the shift of costs that federal action creates in unfunded mandates.

Often, local governments have confronted state legislatures on the issue of state-imposed unfunded mandates passed on to cities. However, in this instance, state and local officials are speaking in one voice on the consequences of federal mandates. Governors and state legislators will join local officials in press events on October 27 to highlight their shared concern.

Indeed, on National Unfunded Mandates Day, members of the Congress will be holding an event on the Capitol steps to demonstrate their support for this grass-roots initiative. As one Congressman told a group of county officials, "you cannot underestimate the power of local elected officials with a shared focused concern."

The leadership of NLC strongly supports this initiative and urges members across the country to join in this education program on unfunded federal mandates which kicks off on October 27. We have been working to set the stage and now encourage your active involvement in communicating with citizens on the consequences of this action which in turn can result in a clear response from Washington.
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Author:Borut, Donald J.
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Oct 25, 1993
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