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Public Statements

Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2005

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


CONCURRENT RESOLUTION ON THE BUDGET FOR FISCAL YEAR 2005 -- (House of Representatives - March 24, 2004)

The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Gilchrest). Pursuant to the order of the House of Tuesday, March 23, 2004, and rule XVIII, the Chair declares the House in the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union for the further consideration of the concurrent resolution, H. Con. Res. 393.

IN THE COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE

Accordingly, the House resolved itself into the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union for the further consideration of the concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 393) establishing the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2005 and setting forth appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2004 and 2006 through 2009, with Mr. Simpson in the chair.

The Clerk read the title of the concurrent resolution.

The CHAIRMAN. When the Committee of the Whole rose earlier today, the following time remained for general debate confined to the congressional budget:

The gentleman from Iowa (Mr. Nussle) has 37 ½ minutes remaining, the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. Spratt) has 37 minutes remaining, and the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Kind) has 5 ¾ minutes remaining.

Mr. KIND. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Just a quick response to my good friend from Iowa. Just to be clear, the Democratic substitute is offering close to 10 billion more in additional funds over the next 5 years to fund No Child Left Behind and special education; over the next 10 years, $50 billion more than the President's baseline budget that he submitted in regards to education programs. Yet we still achieve balance, a balanced budget within 8 years, given the limitations that we face with these historically large budget deficits that we have the majority party to thank for.

Mr. Chairman, I yield 3 ½ minutes to the distinguished gentlewoman from Oregon (Ms. Hooley), from the Committee on the Budget.

Ms. HOOLEY of Oregon. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Wisconsin for yielding me this time, and I applaud his leadership on this issue.

I do not know about anybody else, but I grew up in a family where if we gave our word, we kept our word. We did not break our promise. And this budget is full of broken promises.

I want to talk about just one of those today. There are many, including for veterans, No Child Left Behind, IDEA; but one of the things we do is we fill niches in education, and education is the one piece that gives everybody equal opportunity in this country. Education is incredibly important. Twenty-nine years ago, this Congress pledged it would fully fund IDEA, which is Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. We would fully fund it at 40 percent of the excess cost. And for 29 years Congress has failed to keep that promise, leaving States to shoulder the brunt of this unfunded mandate. Many of us have voted here. We said we will not have any unfunded mandates; yet this has been going on for 29 years.

This budget continues to fail our students, our schools. It costs on average twice as much to educate children with disabilities than a nondisabled child. With the Federal Government failing to live up to its end of the bargain, the State and local school districts are forced to divert already-meager resources from other students in order to ensure that special needs students also receive instruction.

This year, the appropriations for IDEA was $10.1 billion, or at 18.65 percent of excess cost, leaving States and local districts with an unfunded Federal mandate of $12 billion. That is 12 billion that our States and our school districts could be spending to alleviate the school crisis, reduce class size, modernize our schools. The failure to adequately fund IDEA is affecting every student in every classroom across America.

Last year I was very pleased. The Republicans and Democrats got together and said we are going to get to fully funding by the year 2010. I said hooray, at least we know where we are going. But this budget in front of us in the year 2005 increases special education by half a percent. At this rate we will never reach our obligation of 40 percent funding. In fact, we will continue to fall further behind. In committee, I offered an amendment to increase funding for IDEA, and this amendment was voted down on a straight party-line vote. I thought we were willing to work together to all get there.

The Democratic substitute, which we will consider tomorrow, is better than the Republican budget on IDEA in every single year, putting us on a path to full funding by 2012, finally keeping our promise.

States across this Nation are dealing with an economic crisis facing large State budget deficits and making deep cuts to services. In my home State of Oregon, school districts are facing tough decisions, including shutting down early. In Oregon, fully funding IDEA would mean another $60 million. That is really important, another $60 million that our Federal Government is obligated to pay for. This would make a huge difference to our schools in Oregon.

I encourage my colleagues to vote for our students, our schools, and vote against the Republican resolution.

Mr. KIND. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time.

Mr. Chairman, what we have been doing here all day, and what we will resume doing tomorrow, is talking about the priorities of our Nation, the values that we hold dear; and that is the essence of budgeting, making tough decisions with the allocation of the limited resources that we do have available. And it is true that during times of budget deficits, those who typically suffer the most are those who are most in need and especially our children; and we are seeing that now with the Republican budget proposal before us where they are shortchanging crucial education programs, even though I would think that if we sit down and work through this in a bipartisan fashion, we could reach some common ground in regards to the priority of investing in the future, in education, in job-training programs.

It is the only chance we really have to hold out the opportunity and the hope to the next generation that there will be a place for them in the 21st-century economy. But when they pass Federal mandates requiring certain things of local schools, it is fundamental fairness to require that they be given the tools and the resources to do it, and they are not. We are shortchanging No Child Left Behind. We are shortchanging special education. And that financial burden falls back on local property tax rolls. It affects the local school boards and the ability for them to be able to allocate the resources that they need to make sure that the children are succeeding in their classrooms. And I think it is a disservice that we are doing to the wonderful school districts that we have throughout the Nation, but especially to our children.

If the majority wants to come and talk about fiscal responsibility, there would be wide bipartisan support on this side to embrace new budget tools that worked well in the 1990s, the pay-as-you-go rules that basically said that if we propose an increase in spending in one area or tax cuts, we have to find offsets to pay for it. They worked remarkably well in the 1990s: four consecutive years of deficit reduction, 4 years of budget surpluses. But they do not want to go there for obvious reasons, and unfortunately it is the next generation that will be paying a very high price due to the fiscal management of this Nation.

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