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Becker, other mayors urge Congress to halt major budget cuts

Published September 21, 2012 12:19 pm

Budget • Across-the-board reductions will kick in beginning in January.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Washington • Mayors from across the country, including Salt Lake City's Ralph Becker, scolded Congress on Thursday for leaving town without dealing with pending across-the-board cuts to domestic programs and military spending.

"None of us could get away with this nonsense in our hometowns," Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said at a news conference at the National Press Club.

As Congress heads home for the break before Election Day, the mayors say Congress has kicked the crisis down the road again, with Republicans and Democrats refusing to come together to find a better solution than slashing up to 10 percent of agency and defense spending.

Beginning in January, billions will begin to be cut from all areas of the budget under a deal approved earlier this year. The threat of automatic cuts was supposed to prod lawmakers to come up with a more thoughtfully crafted budget and debt deal, but there has been no sign of that happening.

"It's not a number to us," Becker said of across-the-board cuts. "They are our residents" who will suffer.

More than 130 mayors from across the country signed a letter to Congress urging a compromise to avoid the major reductions that they say could remove cops from the street, hamper firefighting and seriously reduce social services such as early childhood assistance for lower-income families.

"We're asking Congress to do the same thing — to make the tough choices that we have to make," Becker said.

Becker and several other mayors at the press club said that Congress should consider some cuts to help balance the budget but also ensure that revenue increases are considered, too.

Congress is unlikely to return to the budget cut issue until after the Nov. 6 election.

tburr@sltrib.com