Council passes resolution urging agreement before fiscal cliff - The Southeast Sun: News

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Council passes resolution urging agreement before fiscal cliff

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Posted: Saturday, December 8, 2012 9:21 am

The Enterprise City Council passed a resolution Dec. 4, taking a stand against possible sequestration.

Should Congress and President Barack Obama not come to an agreement and go over what's being called the "fiscal cliff," significant cuts will be made to the national budget beginning January 2013.

Those cuts would include cuts to the Department of Defense, which could have a direct effect on Fort Rucker, and in turn impact the Wiregrass area economy.

Sequestration would also affect federal spending in other areas such as transportation, education, housing, public safety and water quality programs.

Enterprise Mayor Kenneth Boswell said the resolution is part of a "grassroots" effort to see that an agreement is made between the two parties.

Boswell said the spending cuts would reverse the progress of the slowly recovering economy.

Unless action is taken, $57.7 billion will be cut each year to defense programs, taking effect Jan. 2. During a 10-year period, defense discretionary spending will be cut by nearly $500 billion, or 9.4 percent. The nation would also see $54.7 billion in cuts to non-defense programs. Nearly $500 billion will be cut in non-discretionary spending, or about 8.2 percent.

Non-discretionary spending funds highway and transportation infrastructure, veterans' benefits, public safety, public health, education, federal student aid, job training and food assistance for the poor.

Social Security, Medicaid and civil and military employee pay are all exempt from sequestration.

The cuts could cost the U.S. workforce 2.14 million jobs.

A recent report by the White House Office of Management and Budget has provided preliminary estimates of sequestration's impact on more than 1,200 budget accounts.

Boswell said many of these cuts would have a direct impact on Enterprise and the Wiregrass.

The Community Development Fund, which includes the Community Development Block Grant, would be cut by $279 million and is currently funded at $3.4 billion.

The Department of Justice State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Grants, currently funded at $1.12 billion, would be cut by $92 million.

The Environmental Protection Agency State and Tribal Assistance Grants, currently funded at $3.56 billion, would be cut by $293 million.

The Department of Education Accelerating Achievement and Ensuring Equity Account, which includes Title I funding that provides a fair educational opportunity for disadvantaged children, would be cut by more than $1 billion, and is currently funded at $15.7 billion.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, both state and local, including the Urban Area Security Initiative grants and the State Homeland Security Grant program, would be cut by $183 million and is currently funded at $2.2 billion.

All of these programs, Boswell said, have impacted the Enterprise area at one time or anther.

The resolution was approved unanimously by the city council and will be sent to Alabama's Senators and Representatives.

The resolutions passage calls for Congress to come to a resolution and implement targeted spending cuts with revenue enhancements while preserving growth and enabling investments in communities that support economic recovery, national security and families.

The resolution states that the city council recognizes the need for Congress to adopt a bipartisan and balanced plan to make the tough choices that would address the fiscal challenges and a need for financial responsibility in having a balanced budget and reduce the deficit.

"Sequestration, combined with the expiration of the current tax provisions, could very well lead to another recession furthering the economic downturn highlighted by struggling housing markets, slow consumer spending and high levels of unemployment resulting in declines in city revenues to fund local priorities," the resolution read.

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