Congressional Committees Working on Budget

Article excerpt

As Nation's Cities Weekly went to press, House and Senate Budget Committee members were meeting to resolve differences between the two budget resolutions passed by each chamber earlier this month.

Along with resolving issues surrounding the size of the proposed tax cut and economic stimulus package, reforming Social Security and Medicare, and creating a Medicare prescription drug benefit program, budget conferees are also trying to reach a compromise on discretionary spending. The House-passed budget resolution mirrors the Bush administration's request for $660 billion in discretionary spending. The Senate's resolution would increase the amount of discretionary spending by $28 billion to a total of $688 billion for fiscal year 2002.

The following chart, shown to the right and continued on page 8, outlines differences between the House and Senate budget resolutions, noting the National League of Cities' position on major categories of discretionary spending, affecting cities and towns.

Prospects are unclear regarding discretionary funding essential to municipal programs, as is often the case in budget negotiations where definite numbers from a final resolution are not immediately available. Although Congressional budget resolutions provide an outline for federal expenditures each year, actual spending levels are finalized during the appropriations process.

      Issue                 House Budget
                             Resolution

Education Reform

* Youth employment    $1 billion (a decrease of
                      $147 million)

* Title I             $9 billion ($459 million
                      increase)

* IDEA                $7.3 billion ($1 billion
                      increase)

* Head Start          Maintains funding at
                      current level of approxi-
                      mately $6.2 billion

* Class size          Eliminates $1.6 billion
reduction

* School              Eliminates $1.2 billion
construction
and modernization

Transportation            Fully funds TEA 21
                          and AIR 21 authorized
* TEA 21                  levels; adds $250 mill
* AIR 21                  for Coast Guard

Emergency                 Assumes President's
Management                proposal to eliminate
                          pre-disaster mitigation
* Pre-disaster            funding and lower the
mitigation                federal match for post-
* Matching for            disaster mitigation pro-
state/local               jects
post-disaster projects

Law Enforcement           Cuts $1.5 billion from
* Local Law Enforce-      state and local law
ment                      enforcement assistance
* Block Grant (LLE-       programs, reducing
BG)                       COPS funding from
* Community Orient-       $1.37 billion to $855
ed Police (COPS)          million and cutting the
                          LLEBG from $523 mil-
                          lion to $400 million,

Community                 Funds the CDBG and
Development               HOME programs at
* Community Devel-        last year's levels of
opment Block Grant        $4.4 billion and $1.8
(CDBG)                    billion respectively.
* HOME Investment
Partnerships Program

Environment               $850 million (SRF)
* Clean Water Act
sewer overflows           $450 million

* Drinking Water          $823 million (SRF)

Social Security           Takes $600 away from
                          the trust fund, divert-
                          ing it to a new contin-
                          gency fund.

Medicare                  Proposes $109.9 billion
* Reform                  over 10 years

* Prescription drug       Includes $43.1 billion
benefit                   for an "immediate
                          Helping Hand Prescrip-
                          tion Drug Plan."

Public Housing            Would reduce funding
* Public Housing          for public housing pro-
Capital Fund              grams by $850 million,
                          including a $700 mil-
                          lion cut in the Public
                          Housing Capital Fund
                          and termination of the
                          Public Housing Drug
                          Elimination Program
                          ($309 million). …