Hinojosa on State of the Union
Congressman Rubén Hinojosa today released the following response to President George Bush's State of the Union address:
Although the President's words tonight were very moving, words are not enough. The budget he presents in the next weeks will be the true test of his commitment to the priorities he has presented tonight. My constituents in Texas need jobs, health care, quality education and security. We'll see if he's finally serious about helping the average American and not just big business.
Every American wants a good education for their children, a good job so they can support their families and security from dangers at home and abroad. Yet the Administration's agenda over the past three years has not reflected these goals.
Despite the promise of the landmark "No Child Left Behind Act", year after year the Republicans have refused to provide even the bare minimum of federal funding required to implement the reforms of this new law. As a result, local schools have made little progress and are struggling to meet the mandates of the bill in the face of state budget cuts.
Every year, the Administration eliminates funding for dropout prevention and cuts funding for other key programs that serve the Hispanic community such as bilingual education and migrant education. The President has recommended zero funding for dropout prevention every year since taking office. Yet anyone who reads the newspapers knows that we have a problem graduating youth from high school in many states, and in may school districts.
Parents are starting to fill out the complicated financial aids forms for their children entering college this fall and are wondering how they are going to pay the spiraling cost of tuition, even at state schools. Yet Republicans chose to freeze Pell Grants at last year's level. As a result, 400,000 low- and moderate-income high school graduates will be unable to afford college. Our economy cannot be sustained in the long-term without a well-educated population. If we don't invest in our children now, we will pay the economic price later.
More than eight million Americans are looking for work and nearly 3 million private sector jobs have been lost in the last three years. These families are not looking for a handout from the government. They want a job. Yet Republicans have provided neither. These workers have been denied extensions of the unemployment benefits they need to feed their families while they look for work. In addition, they have been denied any hope for a job. The Administration has ignored the crisis in manufacturing and has presented no plan to stop the job losses in this sector or regain the 2.6 million jobs that have been lost. Instead, the Republicans have provided incentives for American corporations to move their operations overseas, tax-free. When the companies move out, so do American jobs.
Finally, the Administration has not fulfilled its pledge to keep Americans safe at home. The vast majority of our police, firefighters and emergency medical personnel do not have the protective gear, equipment or training they need to respond to a future terrorist attack. Many of them are losing their jobs as states continue to face budget crises. Millions of containers of cargo enter U.S. ports like Corpus Christi and Houston, yet the Republicans have refused to provide funding to inspect them. We still face personnel shortages at our border crossings, yet the Administration is planning to implement a new entry/exit system on a shoe-string budget. If the Administration is serious about making our homeland secure, then they need to provide the resources needed to do it correctly.
Tonight the President said that our union is strong. We are indeed strong because of the spirit and ingenuity of the American people. But if the Administration continues on its current path, where the accumulation of wealth by a few is valued over the dignity of work, health and education for all, then our strength will soon wane. Democrats stand ready to work with the President to expand prosperity and opportunity for all Americans.