Berkley Votes to Protect Nevadans Against GOP Budget Cuts, Student Loans, Child Support Enforcement
(Washington, DC -- November 18, 2005) Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-NV) today opposed a Republican budget package that slashed millions in Medicaid, education and child support collection funding for Nevada, while raising fees on student loans. The bill passed the U.S. House early this morning on a vote of 217-215.
"These cuts are aimed directly at seniors, students and families in Las Vegas, at a time when many are already struggling with higher costs for housing, energy and health care. The Republican budget package slashes $44 million alone in Medicaid funding for the State of Nevada. Eliminating this funding will impact more than 200,000 children, seniors and disabled Nevadans who rely on Medicaid for their health care needs. This bill also allows Nevada, for the very first time, to charge some Medicaid-eligible children premiums and co-payments, which will reduce their access to health care and drive-up costs for families," said Berkley.
At a time when college tuition continues to skyrocket, Berkley noted that the Republican budget slashes student loans by more than $14 billion - increasing the costs for more than 18,250 student borrowers in Nevada. By raising rates and fees for borrowers, the GOP bill will force Nevadans to pay an average of $5,800 more in student loans costs. With the cost of attending a four-year public college up 7.1 percent just this year, students struggling to cover existing costs will now face the added burden of paying more for their federal loans, which already average $17,500.
"Raising student loan fees will mean higher costs for Nevadans pursuing a college education. More than 18,000 Nevada students will see their loan costs increase by $5,000 or more as a result of this misguided budget package. I am deeply concerned that such a steep increase will place a college education out of the financial reach of students in Nevada and across our nation," said Berkley, a former Nevada University Regent. "All told, the GOP bill will cost American students $4.8 billion in new fees over the next five years."
Congresswoman Berkley also expressed concerns about the impact on education in southern Nevada, should the GOP cuts pass. "Republicans claim that their policies leave no child behind, but then they want to cut more than $6.8 million in funding to help disadvantaged students with reading and math, to improve our classrooms, and to fund special education needs in Nevada. If they're successful, another $2.4 million will be taken from Nevada Head Start programs, denying even more of our children a chance at early education," said Berkley.
Shockingly, the Republican budget cuts federal funding for child support enforcement, which will result in a reduction of $180 million in child support collections over the next 10 years, slashing child support payments to single parents who are struggling to provide for their children.