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Executive Director's Column

Washington, DC
November 30, 2012

Mayors came to town before Thanksgiving to take our message to Capitol Hill and the White House concerning the current “fiscal cliff” and sequestration issues.

Conference President Michael Nutter and Vice President Scott Smith led the delegation of our leadership to meet with Leader Nancy Pelosi and her entire House leadership team. Alaska Senator Mark Begich arranged a meeting with Senators, and we spent time in the White House with Vice President Biden, David Agnew and Administration officials.

I believe our weighing in on two issues will help us. First, mayors warned Washington that changes in the tax exempt status of the municipal bond market could disrupt and stop infrastructure development and job production. Congress and the White House gave us assurances that the status quo must be maintained so that the growth potential is not affected.

On another issue, the bipartisan Marketplace Fairness Act legislation was pushed hard by the mayors. And mayors are pleased that both Democratic and Republican Senators are coming together and the result would be an estimated $23 billion annually for state and local budgets.

Mayors also stressed that key economic development tools must be continued such as CDBG grants, workforce training, and water modernization. Key emphasis was placed on the fact that mayors and cities work with the private sector to produce jobs with these federal leveraging investments.

Mayors also were strong in requesting that any “grand deal” with Congress and The White House must include an infrastructure jobs package which would contain transportation, energy independence block grants, port modernization and water grants and financing options including storm mitigation.

The atmosphere here in Washington is ever changing. The question is what will be done during the lame duck session as we end the congressional year and what must be done with the new Congress after President Obama takes the oath as President. Vice President Biden asks that mayors support immediately the extension of middle income tax cuts. Mayors have issued press releases calling on their citizens and are advocating Congress for middle income tax cuts now.

Our timing for these visits was most appropriate. We have delivered our message to the powers here in Washington. And we are now in play to do everything possible to prevent further economic destruction to local economies during this economic recovery period. Of course, meetings are great but we all know we have to stay on top of the follow-through and we will.