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Congressional Budget for the United States Government for the Fiscal Year 2006-Continued

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET FOR THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 2006--Continued

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

AMENDMENT NO. 217

Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, I submitted an amendment to the budget resolution with Senator Hatch, Senator Specter, Senator Biden, Senator DeWine, Senator Leahy, and Senator Baucus to restore funding for juvenile justice and local law enforcement programs closer to last year's levels. Our amendment will increase funding for these programs funded by the Department of Justice by $500 million. Specifically, this money will add $173 million to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, OJJDP, budget, $200 million for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program and the COPS program, and $127 million to the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, HIDTA, program. The amendment accomplishes this by raising the functional total for the justice allocation by $500 million offset in function 920, which gives the Appropriations Committee the flexibility to design the exact offsets.

Let me briefly illustrate why we must put money back into these programs. Following the administration's lead, the Senate Budget Committee allocated $187 million to the OJJDP budget, which is about $173 million less than what we appropriated last year. I am particularly disturbed that the Senate budget resolution assumes complete elimination of the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant program, JABG, which received $55 million last year. JABG provides funding for intervention programs that address the urgent needs of juveniles who have had run-ins with the law.

The Budget Committee seems to feel that the JABG program is ineffective. An example from my home State of Wisconsin proves otherwise. Using Federal dollars from the JABG program, the Southern Oaks Girls School, a juvenile detention center outside of Racine, WI, built a new mental health wing to provide much-needed counseling services for the girl inmates. The administrator of this school cites a 56 drop in violent behavior since the new mental services have been offered. This is just one example of JABG's many successes, a record that supports keeping JABG alive and well-funded.

The same is true of title V Local Delinquency Prevention Program, the only Federal program solely dedicated to juvenile crime prevention. The Senate budget assumes a $50 million cut to title V, penny pinching now that will cost us dearly in the future. According to many experts in the field, every dollar spent on prevention saves three or four dollars in costs attributable to juvenile crime. And who can put a dollar value on the hundreds, even thousands of young lives turned from crime and into productive work and community life by the juvenile crime prevention programs supported by title V?

Following the President's lead, the Senate Budget Committee also drastically cuts the programs most important to state and local law enforcement. Congress appropriated a little more than $700 million last year in both discretionary and formula funds for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program. The budget before us assumes no funding for this program at all. Byrne grants pay for State and local drug task forces, community crime prevention programs, substance abuse treatment programs, prosecution initiatives, and many other local crime control programs.

Talk to any police chief or sheriff back in Wisconsin and they will tell you that the Byrne program is the backbone of Federal aid for local law enforcement. Do we really want to walk away from a program with more than 30 years of success supporting our local police chiefs, sheriffs, and district attorneys?

The COPS program is another victim of this budget. The budget assumes $118 million for the COPS program. That is down from $388 million last year. What is worse is that, within the COPS program, popular initiatives like the COPS Universal Hiring Program and the COPS Technology Grants Program are zeroed out entirely. We should remember that just 3 years ago, the overall COPS program received more than a billion dollars. Of that amount, $330,000,000 was for the hiring program that helped provide police officers for towns in Wisconsin like Ashland and Onalaska. Another $154,000,000 was for the COPS technology program that helped fund critical communications upgrades in cities, like Milwaukee and Madison and many other cities, not only in Wisconsin, but across the Nation.

Almost 3 years ago, I asked Attorney General Ashcroft him why the COPS program was being cut. He answered that that the COPS program was a ``good thing'', that it ``worked very well'' and that it had been one of the ``most successful programs'' we have ever had. I call on the Senate to heed our former Attorney General's words and restore funding for COPS in our budget.

Finally, The Senate budget assumes cuts in the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, HIDTA program from $227 top $100 million. The HIDTA program is a vital collaboration between Federal, State and local law enforcement to combat drug trafficking through intelligence-gathering and cooperation. This proposed cut in the overall HIDTA program threatens the future of smaller HIDTAs like the one in Milwaukee, a program that has been extremely successful in stemming crime.

The downward spiral of juvenile justice and local law enforcement funding is a disturbing budget trend with ugly real world implications. As a result of the Byrne, COPS, JABG, HIDTA and title V programs, we have enjoyed steadily decreasing crime rates for the past decade. But, if we do not, at a minimum, maintain funding for crime fighting, we cannot be surprised if crime again infests our cities, communities, and neighborhoods.

The budget assumes more than $1.2 billion will be cut from what it would take to fully fund OJJDP, the Byrne Grant Program, COPS, and HIDTA at last year's level adjusted for inflation. We restore $500 million of that, not enough to make these important crime fighting programs whole, but enough to keep them functioning and working to keep our communities and families safe. Though some of us would prefer an even higher increase, my amendment represents a step in the right direction. I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.

AMENDMENT NO. 214

Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, I rise today in strong support of the Snowe-Wyden amendment. I am proud to cosponsor this amendment to allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate for the lowest prescription drug prices in Medicare.

Americans pay the highest drug prices in the world. Americans pay, on average, two-thirds more than the Canadians, 80 percent more than the Germans, and 60 percent more than the British. While drug companies argue that they need high prices in America in order to fund research and development for new drugs, drug companies spend more on marketing, advertising, and administration than they spend on research.

Our seniors deserve a Medicare prescription drug benefit that gets the best prices for their medication. But the Medicare prescription drug law actually prohibits the Federal Government from negotiating with drug companies for lower prices. This is a missed opportunity and a waste of taxpayers' dollars.

In light of the growing concerns over the rising cost of this benefit--$57 billion more than originally expected--every effort should be made to save our seniors and taxpayers dollars.

This amendment requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to use the tremendous purchasing power of the 41 million Medicare beneficiaries to assist the private drug plans in getting the lowest price for seniors. The savings provided by this amendment would go to pay for deficit reduction.

I urge my colleagues to support this commonsense effort to lower prescription drug prices and reduce the deficit.

Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, I rise today in strong support of the Harkin amendment. I am proud to be a cosponsor of this amendment, which preserves funding for Perkins career and technical education for the next 5 years. While the Administration has determined that Perkins is ineffective, I rise today to defend Perkins and highlight its proven effectiveness in my home State of Wisconsin.

Perkins provides over $24 million in education and job training to Wisconsin students. These funds are allocated between the Wisconsin Technical College System and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

Over the past 5 years, 97 percent of Wisconsin's high schools have participated in the federally funded Perkins career and technical education programs. This includes over 98 percent of 11th and 12th grade students, as well as secondary special students in the State. As the result of this investment in career and technical programs, 96 percent of Wisconsin students completing high school career and technical education programs graduate, compared to the State's overall graduation rate of 91 percent.

The Wisconsin Technica1 College System and its 16-member colleges receive $13 million in Perkins funding to reach 25,000 students statewide. Students who qualify for Perkins-funded services are those most in need of assistance to ensure their future success in the workforce. Many are academically and economically disadvantaged. Some have disabilities, are single parents or have limited English proficiency. These students are provided counseling, disability support services, services related to increasing students enrolled in non-traditional occupations, remedial instruction, and transition services that help students successfully move from K-12 education to technical colleges and from technical colleges to the workforce.

Our technical colleges have demonstrated success helping their students meet these unique challenges. Six months after graduation, 91 percent of graduates are employed with an annual median salary of over $30,000. Five years after graduation, 97 percent are employed making nearly $36,000 a year. These graduates positively contribute to their communities and meet the needs of local businesses.

The loss of Perkins funding would significantly weaken our Nation's educational quality and economic competitiveness. This amendment is fully offset and provides deficit reduction. I urge my colleagues to support Senator HARKIN's amendment to ensure that students in Wisconsin and elsewhere continue to benefit from Perkins to compete in the 21st century economy.

Mr. SARBANES. Mr. President, I was pleased to join with my colleague Senator Chafee in sponsoring a sense of the Senate resolution which sought to restore the Clean Water State Revolving Funds to the fiscal year 2004 enacted level of $1.35 billion.

For the past 2 years, Senators Crapo, Jeffords, and I, along with other Members of this body, have offered successful amendments to the budget resolution on the Senate floor seeking to boost funding for this program from $1.35 billion to $3.2 billion.

Unfortunately, these amendments were not accepted by the conference committee for fiscal year 2004, and there was no budget resolution in fiscal year 2005.

There is a tremendous need for increased funding for wastewater treatment infrastructure improvements throughout the country. As we underscore in this resolution, in 2002 the Congressional Budget Office estimated a spending gap for clean water needs between $132 billion and $388 billion over 20 years. This year we are proposing a very modest amendment simply to hold the line.

All States will be affected by the President's proposed cut in spending, a cut of 33 percent from the fiscal year 2005 enacted funding and a cut of 46 percent from the 2004 enacted level.

This cut will have a devastating impact on the ability of States and communities to continue upgrading their wastewater infrastructure and to meet the requirements of the Clean Water Act.

This request to restore the funding has broad bipartisan support: 41 Senators joined me in a letter seeking this restoration.

Americans overwhelmingly believe that clean and safe water should be a national issue and a national priority. Protecting our Nation's water is an essential Federal role, not just a State and local responsibility.

In a recent poll, nearly three-quarters of Americans agreed that ``clean and safe water is a national issue that requires dedicated national funding.'' More than two-thirds think Federal spending to ensure clean and safe water is more important than tax cuts. Across the Nation, our wastewater systems are aging. Some systems currently in use were built more than a century ago and have outlived their useful life.

Many communities cannot meet water-quality goals with their current systems. The American Society of Civil Engineers recently released its 2005 Report Card for America's Infrastructure and gave Wastewater systems a D minus, down from a D 2 years ago.

Obviously, I would like to see a significant increase in these clean water State revolving funds, which have been a highly effective means for improving wastewater treatment for communities across the Nation. However, at a minimum, I urge a simple restoration of the funding to the 2004 enacted level.

http://thomas.loc.gov/

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