Mayors Converge On the Hill, Tell Dems To Protect Block Grants
Mayors from cities large and small have a message for Washington when it comes to the fiscal cliff: we've cut and compromised, so learn from us – but don’t touch our block grants.
A group representing the U.S. Conference of Mayors converged on Washington today, holding meetings with Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Vice President Joe Biden.
“Mayors have been taking a balanced approach, including spending cuts, for years. Washington needs to do the same,” Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said after meeting with Pelosi. “But they can’t do it in a way that makes them feel that the job is done by shifting dollars back to local property tax payers.”
Of particular concern to the mayors is the Community Development Block Grant program, which local jurisdictions can use for everything from crime prevention to health initiatives, as well as cuts to infrastructure investments.
“We have been making massive cuts to those programs for years. We have been compromising and understand that point,” Rybak added. “We will get upset when others who have gotten off, especially those in the very top end, [don't] have to carry their fair share.”
While Rybak said the group didn't necessarily get assurances from Pelosi, he did say that from meetings over the years with her, they know that the Democratic House leaders “share most of our values.”
The group has been ramping up its fight to fend off any sequestration cuts that would affect cities. Last month, they sent a letter to the Gang of Eight emphasizing the impact of cuts to local economies.