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Garrett Gazette - March 26, 2007

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Location: Washington, DC


Garrett Gazette - March 26, 2007

Dear Friends:

Last week, as a member of the House Budget Committee, I participated in the development of the budget resolution for Fiscal Year 2008. The House is expected to consider the resolution on the floor later this week.

I was pleased that the Budget Committee approved my amendment calling on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide some financial assistance to veterans and their families when they are laid to rest in state veterans cemeteries.

Currently, veterans can be buried in either federal or state veterans cemeteries for free, but if they are buried in state veterans cemeteries their loved ones may have to pay a fee to be buried with them. Regrettably, particularly in recent years, there has been a tremendous strain on the already limited space available at the federal cemeteries and more and more veterans are turning to the state-sponsored options. These veterans served all of America and the last thing that their families should be concerned about when laying them to rest is whether cost will keep them from being buried by their sides.

I also offered an amendment calling on full funding for the Highlands Conservation Act. The federal law protecting the Highlands has been very successful in preserving this natural treasure in a manner that is consistent with private property rights. The Act authorized $10 million per year for 10 years, but actual funding provided has been much lower. I was pleased that the U.S. Department of Interior released nearly $2 million in funding for the Highlands just last week. Regrettably, my colleagues on the House Budget Committee did not show similar support, rejecting my amendment in mark-up. Rest assured, I will continue to work to preserve this important part of New Jersey's natural heritage.

Overall, however, the budget that was passed out of committee over my objections is something that I simply cannot support because it fails to make the tough choices necessary to restrain federal spending and to balance the budget without raising your taxes. You can read more on that below.

Sincerely,

Scott Garrett

Member of Congress

ISSUE OF THE WEEK: HOUSE BUDGET RESOLUTION WOULD MEAN THE LARGEST TAX HIKE IN HISTORY FOR NORTH JERSEY FAMILIES

On Wednesday, the House Budget Committee debated and voted on the federal budget for 2008. For all the partisan bickering and wrangling, there is at least one thing that we can all agree on. Both Republicans and Democrats agree that the federal government needs to balance the budget. We just differ on the best way to do it.

The federal budget process is certainly complex, but the fact of the matter is that we are just doing what families in North Jersey do every year on a very large scale: look at the amount of money we expect to have over the next 12 months and decide what our priorities are and how, where and when we will spend that money.

Balanced budgets are not a choice for families - they are a fact of life. People earn what they earn, and that is how much they can spend. Sometimes that means difficult decision about priorities. Do we want to have dinner at a restaurant every week or a vacation with the kids at the Shore next summer?

The federal government should operate the same way. I am sorry to say that the budget proposal which passed over my objections on Wednesday does not apply the same principle. This is not a partisan issue for me, as I have bucked my own party to implement budget and earmark reform and I have voted against Republican-crafted budgets that I felt wasted hard earned taxpayer dollars on unnecessary pet projects.

Unfortunately for taxpayers, the federal government has an option that families don't have - the power to raise taxes instead of making difficult decisions. This budget, the first budget written by Democrats since they took power in January, added tens of billions of dollars in new spending without reducing spending in other parts of the budget. And so in order to bring the budget back into balance, they have to raise your taxes.

You may not know it yet, but Wednesday was a very expensive day for families in North Jersey. The Democrat budget proposal that was passed out of the Budget Committee contained the largest tax increase in United States history - $392.5 billion over the next five years. I opposed this tax increase on American families just as I have opposed every tax increase since I arrived in Congress.

But what does that really mean for families in North Jersey? It is difficult to grasp the real-world consequences when we start talking about spending a billion here or a trillion there, so let's take a look at what the Democrat budget proposal would do to a family of four from Bergen County earning $70,000 per year. According to a study done by the New York Times, that family saw their tax bill slashed by 20% after the Republican congress passed tax relief measures between 2001 and 2003. To roll those tax cuts back now would take around $1,500 out of that family's budget today.

As I said before, both Republicans and Democrats understand the need to balance the budget, we just have different philosophies. In contrast to the tax-and-spend budget we voted on last Wednesday, my Republican colleagues and I will propose a budget next week that is based on three simple, common sense principles:

First, we are committed to balancing the budget by 2012 without raising your taxes.

Second, we will not sacrifice pro-growth tax relief policies that have created 7.4 million jobs since 2003 and slashed the deficit by 26% compared to this time last year.

Third, we understand that every dollar that goes into the federal budget comes out of an American family's budget, and so every dollar must be spent wisely.

It is unfortunate that the Democrats, who campaigned long and hard last year on fiscal responsibility, have missed their first opportunity to demonstrate that they understand that every dollar that we add to the federal budget is a dollar that comes out of a family budget. I know that families in North Jersey already pay far too much in the way of taxes because I live here, and so I will continue the fight for fiscal discipline so that the federal government does not take an even bigger bite out of the family budget in order to feed the bloated federal budget.

SPECIAL INVITATION: CONGRESSMAN SCOTT GARRETT TOWN HALL MEETING ON NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND

Five years ago, Congress instituted some of the most dramatic and sweeping changes to federal education law, called No Child Left Behind. This year, my colleagues and I will be reviewing that law and determining what changes need to be made to ensure that parents and teachers can make the best education possible available to all children.

I want to hear what you think about No Child Left Behind. What have your experiences been as teachers, parents, and also students? How can we make sure that students have the best educational opportunities available to them?

WHAT: Town Hall Meeting on No Child Left Behind

WHEN: Tuesday, April 3rd

6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

WHERE: Ramapo College

Pavilion Meeting Room

505 Ramapo Valley Road

Mahwah, New Jersey

To make the most of our time together at this town hall meeting, I'm asking teachers and administrators to come share their thoughts and experiences from 6 to 7 pm, and parents and students to participate from 7 to 8 pm.

I hope you will be able to join me and share your thoughts on this important issue. If you have any questions, please contact my Paramus district staff at 201-712-0330.

CONGRESSMAN SCOTT GARRETT'S OFFICE COMING TO A TOWN NEAR YOU:

Congressman Garrett's staff will be holding Mobile Constituent Service Hours in a number of Fifth District towns this week. The Congressman's Constituent Service Officers are trained to act as your liaisons with Federal agencies. But, it's not always easy to make it out to one of the Congressman's district offices - in Paramus and Newton - to meet with one of them, especially when you are dealing with government red tape. These Mobile Constituent Service Hours sessions bring the Congressman's office to you. So, if you are having trouble with a Federal program, such as Medicare, veterans benefits, Social Security, or more, please feel free to come by. And, please bring copies of any relevant paperwork with you to facilitate their work.

Tuesday, March 27th

Vernon

9:00 am to 11:00 am
Senior Center, 21 Church Street

Tuesday, March 27th

Demarest

9:30 am to 11:30 am
Borough Hall, 118 Serpentine Road

Tuesday, March 27th

Harrington Park

1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Borough Hall, 85 Harriot Avenue

Wednesday, March 28th

Waldwick

10:00 am to noon
Borough Hall, 63 Franklin Turnpike

Wednesday, March 28th

Saddle River

1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Borough Hall, 100 East Allendale Road

Monday, April 2nd

Tenafly

10:00 am to noon
Tenafly Public Library, 100 River Edge Road

Monday, April 2nd

Franklin Lakes

2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Borough Hall, Dekorte Drive

Monday, April 2nd

Ringwood

5:30 pm to 7:00 pm
Borough Hall, 60 Margaret King Avenue


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