PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Automatic federal spending cuts that kicked in March 1 have seriously hurt city and local governments, hampering their ability to deliver essential services to citizens, Mayor Michael Nutter said Tuesday in a blunt message to Washington.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Automatic federal spending cuts that kicked in March 1 have seriously hurt city and local governments, hampering their ability to deliver essential services to citizens, Mayor Michael Nutter said Tuesday in a blunt message to Washington.

The federal sequester has transferred costs onto local governments, said Nutter, the immediate past president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. In Philadelphia, he said, deep cuts to a program that helps homeowners avert foreclosure will potentially result in more blight, while the school district is facing an existential budget crisis that has forced it to lay off 3,800 employees and eliminate sports, music, art and all after-school programs.

"This is not a sustainable model for cities. The federal government cannot balance its budget on the backs of cities and local governments," Nutter said.

The second-term Democrat spoke at a meeting of the State Budget Crisis Task Force at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. The event was designed to bring attention to the eroding financial condition of state governments, but Nutter spoke on behalf of cities.

"We've already been to the fiscal cliff. We've made our cuts. We've cut back on services and we've raised people's taxes at the same time," Nutter said. "We're now trying to come back. Please don't stand in the way."

He said there needs to be "a serious conversation about who gets to sit at the federal budget table."

Former President Bill Clinton was due to give the keynote address later Tuesday.

The nonpartisan State Budget Crisis Task Force led by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and former New York Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch issued a report last year that said U.S. states are grappling with long-term budget problems that threaten their ability to pay for basic services such as law enforcement, local schools and transportation. The group cites rising Medicaid and pension costs, reduced federal aid and eroding tax revenues as a few of the challenges facing the states.