News Releases

Bush Budget has Wrong Priorities for Washington State, America

Feb 06 2006

Cuts to VA, nuclear waste cleanup, healthcare, homeland security will be felt around the state
Largest deficit in history



(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Less than a week after delivering a State of the Union address in which he painted a rosy future for our nation, the President today sent Congress a fiscal year 2007 budget that takes America backwards.



“The President’s budget is a statement of values; unfortunately the document he delivered to Congress today shows that this Administration is out of touch with the needs of America’s working families,” Senator Murray said. “We need a government that reflects our priorities – that means investing in our infrastructure, caring for our veterans, and protecting our ports and borders. On issue after issue this budget comes up short. I am disappointed that the President has not provided the resources we need to move our families and communities forward.”



Details of the President’s budget and Senator Murray’s response follows:



VETERANS



The proposed budget increase by the Bush Administration is necessary, but not sufficient to care for current and future veterans. The Administration has once again proposed short-sighted user fees and increased co-pays for prescription drugs that do nothing to cut back on costs, but discourage access to the VA for millions of veterans who have been promised healthcare in thanks for their service to our nation. This continues the trend from fiscal year ’05 during which the Bush Administration denied VA access to 260,000 veterans.





“The VA health care system cannot provide quality care for our veterans at the President’s requested funding level. While this increase in funding stops the digging, we’re still in a hole,” Senator Murray said. “With a new generation of combat veterans deployed around the world, the federal government must meet its obligations to our veterans instead of creating more barriers to care.”





HANFORD



Once again, the President has failed to make Hanford cleanup a national priority. While the President’s budget request to Congress provides adequate funding for the vitrification plant, other aspects of the site – particularly the tank cleanup – have experienced significant cuts. It is time for the Administration to come clean about its plan for Hanford.



“The Bush Administration continues to send mixed messages about its plans for cleaning up Hanford,” Senator Murray said. “On one hand they have said they want to accelerate cleanup, then in their supplemental request last year they called it a lower-priority federal program. Today, in his budget, the President increased funding for the vit plant, but cut funding for the tank farm. It is time for the Bush Administration to come clean about its plans for Hanford and its commitment to the people of the Tri-Cities.”





PORT SECURITY



The Commandant of the Coast Guard has said it would take $7.3 billion over 10 years to properly secure the 361 port facilities across the country – including two of our largest cargo ports – Seattle and Tacoma. Unfortunately, the President has once again failed to provide this level of funding to protect our ports, our economy and our communities within his budget request.



“In Washington state, we know the potential loss to life and livelihood that could result from an attack on one of our ports. Yet despite these dangers, the President has yet to put forward a plan for securing our nation’s ports and has failed to make our ports a priority in his budget. Our national security and economic stability depend on doing better,” Murray said.



BPA



The President’s Fiscal Year 2007 budget would prevent certain surplus sale revenues from being used to lower power prices for BPA customers, as Bonneville has done for decades. According to budget documents, this plan could raise Northwest power rates by an estimated $924 million over the next 10 years—depending on the amount of surplus power BPA sells and the market price of power.



“We are just beginning to pull out of the economic damages left by the electricity crisis of the past five years and we will not stand by and allow the Administration to drag us down again. An increase in the cost of heating our homes and providing electricity to businesses will cripple the economy in the Pacific Northwest. The financial mistakes of this Administration must not be paid for on the backs of Northwest ratepayers,” Murray said.





EDUCATION



The President’s $2.1 billion in cuts to education represents the single largest cut to education in the 26 year history of the Department of Education. On top of underfunding No Child Left Behind and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the budget also cuts Education Technology Grants, college preparation programs and grants to help students attend college.



“One week after saying education was key to securing our nation’s future, the President is now proposing to cut it more than ever before,” Murray said. “We should be tearing down barriers to education and building a stronger, more competitive economy; unfortunately the President’s budget request does just the opposite.”