Gov. John deJongh Jr. joined his fellow Democratic governors in urging Congressional leaders to avoid automatic spending cuts by reaching a budget deal with President Obama, according to a Wednesday news release from Government House.
The letter, signed by 11 governors, expresses their concern about the impact of a process called sequestration, the news release indicated. Sequestration grew out of a budget deal between Congressional Democrats and Republicans to avoid a possible impasse.
It mandates $1.2 trillion in across-the-board spending reductions that the governors say will directly impact the economies of cities, states, territories and families across the nation. The automatic cuts of $109 billion per year over nine years were part of the 2011 Budget Control Act, and will take effect in January if a deal is not reached.
Standing in the way of agreement is Republican refusal to consider any tax increase to offset deficits and Democratic refusal to accept a budget deal that does not increase revenues. Both sides have accused the other of playing "Russian Roulette" with the nation's economic future.
“The proposals for how to avoid these cuts highlight contrasting visions for our nation,” states the letter, addressed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
The letter acknowledges “there is almost universal agreement that sequestration should be avoided” and urges Congress “to responsibly avoid sequestration by adopting the president’s fair and balanced approach.”
If the sequestration cuts go into effect, they will place the burden of reducing the national deficit to struggling families, the statement said, and merely shift costs from the federal government to states.
“These cuts would have a drastic impact on our state economies, which are already under a great deal of strain, and would lead to reduced investments in key areas such as education, infrastructure, research and emergency response. We recognize that tough decisions must be made to address our national deficit and that spending reductions are necessary. It is, however, our duty as leaders to ensure that these reductions are fair and do not require working families to bear the heaviest burden,” the letter said.
The president’s approach involves a combination of tax increases on the highest income brackets and spending cuts. It distributes spending cuts among defense and non-defense programs, according to the statement.
The Democratic governors said that approach will maintain a strong military, invest in the growth of our communities, and provide important services to those in need.
“Sequestration threatens to halt the steady economic improvement of our nation and our states, and the clock is ticking on the opportunity to act. We strongly urge our Congressional leaders to adopt a responsible approach to deficit reduction, one that will put America on a path to continued growth and prosperity and give us the tools we need to serve our citizens,” the letter reads.
In addition to deJongh, the letter was signed by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue and Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie.