Thursday, March 29, 2007

The New Budget will Help Working Families of Arkansas.

Today, the House will pass H. Con. Res. 99, the Budget Resolution for FY 2008. This budget is fiscally responsible and has the right priorities for Arkansas and America.

The new budget will restore fiscal responsibility and accountability to Washington, balance the budget, strengthen our national defense, invest in the next generation, grow the economy, preserve our planet and invest in America’s prosperity.

This budget charts a new course, rejecting the reckless spending habits of the old majority, and puts us on a path to balance the budget by 2012 by adhering to pay-as-you-go spending rules. This initiative implemented during the first 100 Hours Agenda by the new Democratic majority builds upon the progress we have completed for working families across America. I look forward to finding more ways to improve the quality of life for Arkansans.

Here are some details about how the new budget will help Arkansas' families:

Strengthens Our National Defense and Honors Promises to Arkansas' Brave Troops and Veterans

The House budget provides for the largest veterans’ budget increase in American history – $3.5 billion more this year ($32 billion over the next five years) for veterans’ health care than the President’s budget.

These improvements are needed to ensure that the 268,352 veterans in Arkansas receive care worthy of their sacrifice. It will also help the 15,387 brave Arkansans, who served their country in Afghanistan and Iraq since September 2001, who are in need of VA health care services. [Veterans Administration, 9/04; Department of Defense, 2/07]

Invests in a 21st Century Workforce and a Growing Economy for the Middle Class

The Democratic House budget supports middle-class tax cuts and protects middle-income families from a tax increase by setting up a reserve fund for a long-term fix for the alternative minimum tax (AMT). This change will prevent middle income families from paying this tax, which was never intended for them in the first place.

The House budget also recognizes the importance of job training for hardworking Arkansans to keep America competitive with a highly-skilled workforce. It rejects the President’s cuts that eliminate $34,460,000 in funding for job training and employment services in Arkansas. [FFIS, 2/07]

Restores Funding for Children and Working Families

In Arkansas, 67,690 children do not have health insurance. The House budget helps these children by increasing funding for State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) – reducing the number of uninsured children across America by millions. [Kaiser State Health Facts, 2005]

The House Democratic budget also rejects the Administration’s proposal to cut Medicare funding by $259,634,782 for Arkansas hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and home health care providers – because it would make health care less accessible and affordable for many Arkansans. [American Hospital Association, 2/07]

Funding for New Initiatives to Protect Our Environment and Preserve Our Planet

The Democratic House budget invests in renewable energy and energy efficiency to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, reduce global warming, and promote new technologies that can create American jobs.

Gas prices have increased by $1.05 in Arkansas since January 2001, an increase of approximately 76 percent. [EIA, 3/07 & 1/01; AAA Fuel Gauge Report, 3/07]

Restores Fiscal Responsibility To Washington

The House budget puts in place the tough “pay as you go” budget rules to begin to reverse the record budget deficits accumulated under Republican leadership.