by Jon Kuhl
Congress is back in session following the August recess. Trumping all issues is the economy. More specifically, Congress is focusing on two questions: How can the government help create more jobs? And, how will the government reduce the national deficit?
As Congress works to answer these questions, NCSL’s federal affairs office in Washington, D.C., is playing an important role in ensuring that the voices of the states are heard. On the question of jobs, NCSL is working to ensure vital funding for infrastructure programs, such as surface transportation and environmental state revolving fund programs. All are critical state economic investments, providing numerous jobs and other benefits.
NCSL also remains committed to protecting the solvency of state budgets. Unfunded and underfunded mandates from the federal government can leave states carrying the lion’s share of the burden. In addition to making sure states aren’t faced with unfair financial burdens from the federal government, NCSL is fighting to get Congress to pass the Main Street Fairness Act. It woulld give states the authority to collect sales taxes on purchases made by remote sellers (online retailers, catalogs, etc.). Looking at a study from the University of Tennessee, in FY 2012 alone, states stand to gain a collective $23.3 billion in revenue.
NCSL’s federal affairs staff in Washington, D.C., engage with federal government officials daily, but NCSL members also play a critical role. On Sept. 21, state legislators on the Federal Deficit Reduction Task Force will be in Washington to meet with members of the Super Committee and other members of Congress. In their meetings on the Hill, task force members will impress upon their federal colleagues the importance of treating the states as partners in reducing the deficit. States expect to share the burden, not carry it alone.