News Releases

Bush Hands Washington State a Mixed Bag in '05 Budget

Feb 02 2004

Cuts in education, transportation, homeland security will be felt around state
Biggest deficit in history

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Two weeks after delivering a State of the Union address in which the President told Americans that we could have it all, the delivery of his fiscal year 2005 budget to Congress tells a much different story.



"On issue after issue this budget comes up short. It favors tax cuts over our nation's security, boardrooms over classrooms, and deficits over job creation," Senator Murray said. "I am disappointed that the President has not provided enough to fulfill the federal commitment to protect our ports, care for our veterans, and move our families and communities forward."



Details of the President's budget and Senator Murray's response follows.





LABOR



The President's budget request will reduce funding to states with high unemployment rates -- like Washington – by cutting or eliminating numerous worker training programs.



The President's budget reduces the Department of Labor's funding for dislocated workers by $110 million. The President also eliminates the Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker program. Funding for programs to benefit the disabled and Limited English Proficiency would also be reduced by the President.



"Today our nation faces both a jobs crisis and a skills crisis. This is not the time to be cutting investments in worker training," Senator Murray said. "Training workers is one of the best investments we can make in the future success of our economy."





EDUCATION



The President's budget for the Department of Education is the smallest increase since fiscal year 1996. Under the President's budget, Washington state would receive $180 million in Title I funds (money for disadvantaged elementary and secondary schools). This is $84 million short of the $264 million promised under No Child Left Behind. This shortfall will deny nearly 28,000 Washington state students Title I services.



"As students and teachers struggle to fulfill the requirements of No Child Left Behind, this budget falls at least $9 billion short of what they need - and what the President promised in his own legislation," Murray said. "The greatest test of No Child Left Behind is whether we can make the law work for children without punishing them. So far the President's budget is failing that test and failing our nation's kids."





PORT SECURITY



The President's budget request seeks to eliminate Operation Safe Commerce, continues to underfund Coast Guard operations like Search and Rescue, and cuts the State Formula Grants Program for first-responders by $990 million and training programs for State and Local first responders by $103 million.



"Our ports remain one of our nation's most vulnerable assets, but this budget does not reflect that reality," Murray said. " The truth is that the Administration pays dangerously little attention to port security initiatives and has turned our first responder training program into an unfunded mandate with our states and local governments holding the bag. Our national security and economic stability depends on doing better than the President's request."





VETERANS



The Administration's budget request includes a $507 million increase for the VA Healthcare System – far short of the $3.1 billion increase recommended by national coalitions of veterans. The VA request cuts funding for research, seeks to impose new fees on veterans, limits access to VA home loans, and underfunds benefits administration.



The VA budget request seeks to impose $2.4 billion in user fees and increased co-pays for prescription drugs on veterans, and would require the VA to eliminate up to 1,000 jobs, which will increase delays in processing disability claims and longer wait-times for medical appointments.



"At a time when the next generation of combat veterans is risking their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, this budget sends the wrong message," Sen. Murray said, "The VA health care system cannot provide quality care for our veterans at the President's requested funding level. The President also makes a bad budget request for veterans worse by seeking new and increased fees from veterans and new restrictions on veterans access to benefits."





HANFORD



The Administration's total budget for nuclear waste cleanup comes close to being a bright point, but falls short by continuing to ignore the role of states in the cleanup process. The budget sets aside $350 million -- $64 million of which would go to Hanford -- to be spent on cleanup only when the issue of high-level waste reclassification is resolved to the Administration's satisfaction. The Department of Energy already lost in litigation on this issue and needs to go back to the states to find a mutually agreeable resolution to the issue.



"I am pleased that the Administration has recognized the importance of fulfilling our federal commitment to the cleanup of nuclear waste. However, I am disappointed that DOE appears to be using the budget as leverage in its dispute with our state. I urge the parties to figure this out. Too much is at stake to play games with this issue," Senator Murray said. "This could have been a very good budget for Hanford, as it is we still have some work to do."





MAD COW/FOOD SAFETY



President Bush's budget provides $68 million to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration for "Mad Cow" disease prevention activities, but it cuts more than $220 million for agricultural research.



"The President's budget falls far short of providing our farmers and ranchers with the funding necessary to restore consumer confidence and assure our trading partners of the safety of our beef. It fails to expand our nation's testing, monitoring and research capabilities, and puts Washington state's family ranchers and dairy farmers at risk," Murray said. "Washington's beef industry contributes over $621 million to the state's economy and supports more than 9,500 family farmers and businesses, and they deserve better."





TRANSPORTATION



The President's budget cuts the Federal Aviation Administration's modernization program by $471 million. The President's budget for the new 6 year highway reauthorization also contains significantly less funding than either the House or Senate reauthorizations bills.



"The President's budget fails our transportation needs from our highways and airports to AMTRAK and beyond. This short-sighted approach means fewer jobs and an inadequate infrastructure that will continue to sap our productivity," Murray said.



The President's budget request does include $80 million for the Sound Transit Link Light Rail project.



"I'm pleased that the Administration's budget again includes the funding that Sound Transit needs to reduce congestion and improve transportation throughout our region," Murray said. "I especially want to thank Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta and Federal Transit Administrator Jenna Dorn for making sure Sound Transit can fulfill its promise to Washington's commuters."





HEALTH CARE



The President's budget request includes various cuts important to Washington state and, specifically, to rural Washington. The request cuts funding to Rural Health Outreach by 25 percent and eliminates the Rural Health Flexibility Grants Program. The Community Access Program that Sen. Murray has fought to save would be cut by $94 million dollars.



"The President's proposed cuts to rural health care will harm an already stressed health care system in Washington state, particularly in our rural communities," Murray said. "I'll continue to fight for the Community Access Program and other programs that are making a meaningful difference to low income Washingtonians, seniors and underserved rural communities."