Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
Barack Obama

Report: Obama’s 2011 Budget Leaves Cities in a Fiscal Hole of $16B-Plus

nlc.png(Chart: National League of Cities)

The White House's proposed budget for 2011 would direct $2.8 billion to its biggest-ticket urban aid programs, even as American city governments face estimated budget shortfalls of at least $19 billion next year, according to a report released today by the nonpartisan Drum Major Institute (DMI).

The report compares urban budget shortfalls estimated by the National League of Cities -- which found that 62 percent of metropolitan areas delayed or canceled infrastructure projects during last year's economic downturn (see above chart) -- with the amount the Obama administration aims to spend on city transportation, housing, and community aid next year.

The DMI report praises the White House for its Partnership for Sustainable Communities, an ambitious plan to unify the disparate elements of federal land-use policy, and its continued attention to affordable housing grants. The budget "does demonstrate a concern for how federal policy impacts the health and vibrancy of neighborhoods and communities," DMI analyst Harry Moroz wrote.

But at a time when Washington can continue to deficit spend while city governments must achieve balanced budgets, often by having to cut essential services, Moroz questioned the Obama administration's ability to recognize the large-scale economic difficulties confronting U.S. metro areas:

Sucha shift [as the White House's 2011 budget makes] might have been sufficient in an era of robust job growth witha humming economy and expanding city revenues. In the current climate,though, it suggests an administration that is certainly aware of theimportance of cities, but is unwilling to commit the necessaryresources to meet the basic economic needs of cities and their localgovernments. ...

Only substantial direct assistance to citygovernments, coupled with an ambitious and targeted jobs program, canensure that cities, the economic engines of the country, do not soonrun out of fuel.

Just how big of a hole are cities in for 2011? The National League's study found that in the best-case scenario of a 3 percent budget shortfall, the nation's urban budget gap would reach $12 billion, with the worst-case outcome yielding $19 billion in urban deficits.

Once anticipated cuts to state governments' urban spending are factored in, however, the total shortfall could reach as high as $29 billion.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

Monday’s Headlines Bring Another Setback

The Biden administration's new rule requiring states to report their greenhouse gas emissions from transportation was dealt another blow when the Senate voted to repeal it.

April 15, 2024

‘The Bike Is the Cure’: Meet New Congressional Bike Caucus Chair Mike Thompson

Meet the incoming co-chair of the congressional bike caucus — and learn more about how he's getting other legislators riding.

April 15, 2024

Calif. High-Speed Rail Takes a Step Towards Acquiring Trains

The contract calls for two prototype trainsets for testing to be delivered by 2028, and four trainsets to be used on the "early operating segment" between Merced and Bakersfield, ready between 2030 and 2033.

April 12, 2024

Friday’s Headlines Are Still Unsafe

Traffic deaths are declining for those ensconced in thousands of pounds of steel. For the rest of us, not so much.

April 12, 2024

Measure HLA Is Now Officially Law for L.A. City

Check the city maps to find what bus, bike, and walk improvements are coming to streets in your neighborhood.

April 12, 2024
See all posts