States worry over current year budget battles in Congress

One day following a two-week reprieve from a possible government shutdown, state legislative leaders are urging their federal counterparts to find permanent solutions for this current year’s budget. In a letter from the National Conference of State Legislatures, officials said they need clarity on the level of federal funds states can expect heading into the final quarters of the current fiscal year.

Given the budgeting cycle of most states, and their balanced budget requirements, state legislators are worried that the nearly $200 billion budget gaps they between FY 2011-2012 will not be enough. NCSL leaders urged House and Senate leadership to quickly resolve any differences that exist between their bills or to otherwise maintain funding for state-federal programs at their FY 2010 levels. State-federal grants cut by the House of Representatives in a Continuing Resolution will total around $20 billion if the Senate approves.

NCSL “fully expect that future cuts to state-federal programs are inevitable,” the letter says. But those cuts “should be accomplished by ensuring that states obtain greater program flexibility, relief from unfunded legislative or regulatory mandates, relief from maintenance of effort requirements and related tools that will allow for more efficient and effective administration of these programs.”

NCSL was careful to say they are not seeking any one-time assistance or related help from the federal treasury; they were also firm in not wanting to see federal deficit problems exported to state and local governments through spending cuts that do not produce savings for states.

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