Washington Insight

APWA joins NLC-led alliance to support investment in America's communities

Jim Fahey
Director of Government Relations
APWA Washington Office

The rhythm of decision-making and action in Washington, DC is governed by cycles-budget cycles, authorization and reauthorization cycles and, of course, election cycles. With the start of each new round of the governing process in the nation's capital follows a fresh opportunity for public works to communicate its public policy advocacy priorities. This year's convening of a new Congress and installment of a new Administration certainly are no exception.

To strengthen the voice of public works and that of local communities at the start of the next governing cycle, APWA has joined forces with the National League of Cities (NLC) and 24 national associations in a broad-based coalition. Spearheaded by NLC, the Investing in Communities Coalition is calling on the 107th Congress and the Bush Administration to support a national agenda to invest in the nation's towns, cities and local communities.

The alliance has prepared a leadership plan outlining six priorities for federal action, including a call to provide financing and investment incentives to build and maintain infrastructure. Assuring adequate investment in the nation's public infrastructure is one of APWA's top public policy advocacy priorities. Other coalition priorities include support for technology, affordable housing, education, public safety, and equal opportunity.

The Investing in Communities Coalition has identified a set of core values and interests that underpin a framework for carrying out the coalition's objectives. They include support for new civic alliances and government leadership, fairness and regional action, embracing technology, making wise investments, and establishing high standards. The coalition's agenda was developed over the course of a year through a process of consultation and meetings coordinated by NLC.

Outreach by the coalition began last year, soon after the November elections. On behalf of the coalition, NLC Immediate Past-President Bob Knight, Republican mayor of Wichita, KS, and NLC President Dennis Archer, Democratic mayor of Detroit, MI, presented the coalition's action plan to the leadership of the 107th Congress. A formal unveiling of the coalition took place in January at a national press event in Washington, DC. Top officers of the coalition's member organizations took part in the event, and APWA President Judith Mueller of Charlottesville, VA was on hand to represent APWA.

This year represents a particularly opportune time for the Investing in Communities Coalition to come together. Significant changes in the 107th Congress offer an important opportunity to influence the decision-making and priority-setting process. Because of term limits imposed in 1994, the House of Representatives will have new chairs for each of its committees. Senate committees, too, will have new members, in some cases new chairs, and the even split among the parties in that chamber will create a new dynamic in the legislative process. At the executive branch level, there will be scores of new agency directors and cabinet secretaries responsible for developing policies, programs and initiatives that will have far-reaching impacts on local programs and budgets.

The principals of the member organizations of the Investing in Communities Coalition will be holding meetings with top level policy-makers in the Congress and in the new Administration during the next several months to talk about the coalition's priorities and to establish new relationships with the federal government. The coalition will continue working with policy-makers at all levels throughout next year to build a partnership that supports investments in community assets.

For more information about the Investing in Communities Coalition contact Peter King, APWA Executive

Director, or Jim Fahey in the APWA Washington Office at 202-408-9541, or visit www.nlc.org/investing/htm.

Following is a list of the Investing in Communities Coalition member organizations:

  • AFL-CIO, Working for America Institute
  • Air Transport Association of America
  • American Bar Association (collaborating organization)
  • American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
  • American Public Power Association
  • American Public Works Association
  • American Water Works Association
  • Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies
  • Council for Urban Economic Development
  • International Association of Fire Chiefs
  • International Council of Shopping Centers
  • Local Initiatives Support Corporation
  • National Association of Counties
  • National Association of Home Builders
  • National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials
  • National Association of Regional Councils
  • National Community Development Association
  • National Community Reinvestment Coalition
  • National Congress for Community Economic Development
  • National Education Association
  • National League of Cities
  • National School Boards Association
  • National Youth Employment Coalition
  • Public Technology, Inc.
  • U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • United States Conference of Mayors