Mayor Article

Statement of Conference President and Denver Mayor Wellington E. Webb on President Clinton’s FY2001 Budget


Today the nation’s economy is stronger than ever before. Both the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office are predicting huge budget surpluses over the next decade—an estimated three trillion dollars. The nation’s Mayors believe that in order to continue this economic boom, Congress and the Administration must responsibly re-invest a portion of these surplus dollars, in the communities that generated them. The federal government must supply fuel for the engines that drive this nation’s economy: our metro areas.

Furthermore, we must do our best to bring the fruits of economic prosperity to every distressed neighborhood, to every working family in America.  We’ve got to support every American in his or her quest to take advantage of this prosperity—not just because it’s the ethical or moral thing to do, but because these neighborhoods and families represent untapped markets in terms of available land and labor resources. Think of the growth that our country could achieve if every American possessed the skills to compete in the global economy—if we could truly make use of the hundreds of thousands of acres available in cities for development.

The President’s budget proposal for FY2001—the first of the millennium and the last of his Presidency—represents a critical first step in determining “A New Agenda for America’s Cities.”

The nation’s Mayors have developed “A New Agenda for America’s Cities,” a ten-point plan which contains strategies designed to foster the nation’s growth while improving the quality of life for all Americans (available on the Web at www.usmayors.org/uscm).  The President’s budget proposal makes remarkable strides toward implementing many of the strategies recommended in the ‘New Agenda,’ including:

  • $1.355 billion for the Community Oriented Policing Services Program;

  • A $280 million increase for gun safety initiatives;

  • $1.75 billion for the third installment on the Administration’s plan to recruit and hire 100,000 new teachers, an increase of $450 million, as well as $22 billion over the next two years to fund a 15-year School Modernization Bond program, which would provide tax credits to eliminate the interest costs of construction bonds;

  • $1 billion for 21st Century Learning Centers—double last year’s allocation—as part of a comprehensive approach to fix failing schools;

  • $690 million to provide 120,000 new vouchers for rental assistance new Section 8 Housing Vouchers program, a $119 million increase for Community Development Block Grants, and a $50 million increase for the Home Investment Partnership Program;

  • A $1 billion increase for the Head Start program;

  • An $817 million increase to expand access to health care for children under the Children’s Health Insurance Program;

  • $468 million for a new inter-city high speed passenger rail project; and

  • $2.15 billion in tax credits to support the “Better America Bond” initiative, which will provide new resources to state and local governments to clean up brownfields, improve water quality and preserve open space.

We applaud the Administration for its leadership in bringing forward a budget that responds to the needs of cities, and of working families who live in our communities. Yet while this budget is in many respects promising, we must voice serious concern over several issue which remain inadequately addressed in the budget:

  • Though the President is proposing $150 million for the state and local assistance program of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), due to earmarks only about 12% of that total LWCF funding request would be available for local recreation needs.

  • The Administration’s budget contains no funding for the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant;

  • The proposed level of funding ($1.022 billion) for Youth Training Formula Grants will result in a significant decrease in the number of youth employed this summer—some cities are predicting they may have to cut their summer youth program by 33% to 50%.

  • The President is requesting only $92 million for the clean up of brownfields in 2001;

  • The Administration’s budget requests no additional funds for the “New Starts” program above what is guaranteed in TEA-21, leaving $400 million in FY 2001 spending authorizations unfunded.

Throughout the year America’s Mayors will continue to push for the implementation of “A New Agenda for America’s Cities,” not only in this Administration’s budget proposal but with the Presidential candidates, to ensure that the next President of the United States develops a strategic partnership with America’s cities, to spur economic growth and to improve the quality of life for every American.

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U.S. Mayor

Home Search jwelfley@usmayors.org

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