Kerry Says Bush Budget Would Hurt Massachusetts
Sen. John Kerry today said that dozens of critical programs related to health care, education, law enforcement and even Amtrak operations would suffer under the budget plan presented by President Bush today. Kerry said that budget was bad news for Massachusetts residents because of significant cuts to school grants, including arts education, career counseling, technical education and safe and drug-free school grants. "This budget runs counter to what working Americans expect from their government, but prioritizes tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans," Kerry said this afternoon. "It's filled with bad news for families, commuters, local governments, hospitals, fire departments, first responders, small businesses, teachers and other educators - among others. It shortchanges our children by directing another $245 billion to pay for the ill-advised war in Iraq, even after a majority of voters told President Bush that we're headed in the wrong direction there. I promise to review this budget very closely try to prevent the President's reckless recommendations from moving forward." The following is a preliminary review of the budget's impact on key programs and services: VETERANS *Health Care: The Bush plan would continue to shortchange our brave men and women by continuing to impose co-payments, enrollment fees and higher drug co-pays for some veterans. Many returning vets are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, yet the Administration's budget offers little hope for them. Finally, many veterans will have a hard time finding housing after the Bush plan proposed a cut in housing credits. EDUCATION * Overall: The Bush FY 08 budget would cut Education Department funding by $1.5 billion, for a total of $56.0 billion - down from $57.5 billion this year. * Grants: Elimination of 44 grant programs, including Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, education technology state grants, arts education, and school counseling, and large cuts to numerous other programs including career and technical education, and safe and drug-free schools state grants. An estimated 28,302 children in Massachusetts would be denied afterschool funding under the president's budget. *Special Education: Retreats on its commitment to students with disabilities by directing the federal government to provide a smaller share of states' total costs for special education. *Afterschool Programs: Funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers would remain flat, at $981 million - $1.5 billion below the $2.5 billion authorized level for this year. *Vouchers: Bush proposed a $300 million private school voucher plan. *AmeriCorps: The FY08 budget once again proposes deep reductions in national service programs like VISTA, which would be cut by $5.7 million. Also, AmeriCorps State and National grants would be cut by $9.2 million. And finally, one of the four National Civilian Community Corps centers would be closed, for a cut to the program of $15 million. *Head Start: The budget would cut Head Start by $100 million, for a total of $6.79 billion. Since 2002, Head Start has been cut by 11 percent in real terms. The program currently only serves only about one-half of the children eligible for the pre-school program, much fewer in Early Head Start. SMALL BUSINESS * Manufacturing: The President wants to roll back funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program by 56 percent. This same program is designed to help small and mid-sized manufacturers, and has helped create or retain more than 2,900 jobs in Massachusetts during the last year. * Technology: The president's plan also would eliminate the Advanced Technology Program, which provides grants to support research and development of high-risk, cutting-edge technologies. Scores of Massachusetts companies have benefited from this grant program. AMTRAK *Service: Bush's plan would slash the Amtrak budget from $1.293 billion, to $800 million - likely resulting in the elimination of 350 jobs in Massachusetts and cuts in service along key routes, like (Boston-Worcester-NY-Chicago) and (DC to Burlington, via Springfield and Amherst). TRANSPORTATION *Bridge: Due to proposed cuts in the Coast Guard Budget, construction of a new Chelsea Street Bridge in Boston would suffer, delaying the completion date of this critical project. PUBLIC SAFETY/HOMELAND SECURITY *Fire: The budget proposes a 55 percent cut in FIRE Act grants for local fire departments to purchase equipment and provides no funding at all for the SAFER Act which helps department hire staff. Funding would go from $662 million this year to $300 million. *Police: The president's budget also severely cuts the COPS program - a program that Senator Kerry helped create - as well as slashing funds for the Office on Violence Against Women. That office received $2.5 million last year and would fall to $1.2 million. *Homeland Security: Less than a week after the scare that gridlocked downtown Boston, Bush proposes a severe cut to three different programs that help the state work with local governments to pay for critical anti-terror safety programs. The state grant program would go from $509 million to $187 million, the Urban Area Security Initiative goes from $747 million to $600 million; and the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Grants, which trains our police, goes from $364 million to $263 million. HEALTH CARE *Children: Bush would cut payments for low-income children's health care and increase the number of uninsured kids by targeting the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Under Sen. Kerry's plan, every one of the nation's 11 million uninsured kids would be covered. *Medicare: Bush favors cutting $300 billion over ten years from Medicare and Medicaid, hurting the most needy and the elderly at a time of rising health care costs. Massachusetts hospitals and other providers would face more than $400 million in cuts in the next five years alone. *Physician reimbursement: Bush offers no plan for addressing the cumulative cut of nearly 50 percent in physician reimbursement over the next 10 years. Failure to address this issue is typical of the Administration's overall neglect of Medicare priorities, and compromises the overall quality of our health care delivery system. *Research: Bush would slash funds for NIH, CDC and other important health programs. *Uninsured: The Bush budget includes more incentives for employers to drop coverage by creating a plan that seeks to foster individual insurance at the expense of the group market. HOUSING *Low Income Housing: Bush would cut or eliminate critical federal housing programs, including taking nearly $33 million of the Massachusetts cities allocation from the Community Development Block Grant program, which helps build and rehabilitate affordable housing in low-income communities. He would also eliminate funding for Empowerment Zones, Enterprise Communities, the HOPE VI program and other critically needed housing and economic development programs that focus on low-income communities *LIHEAP: The Bush plan cuts funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) - reducing the program from the authorized level of $5.1 billion to $1.5 billion. This vital funding helps pay the winter heating bills or summer cooling bills of low-income and elderly people. The budget also cuts back on funds for the weatherization program, which enables low-income families to permanently reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient.