Bush '08 Budget Devastating To Indian Country
No funding For Navajo- Gallup Planning, Indian Country, Jails Or Courts
By Kathy Helms – firstname.lastname@example.org - Dine Bureau
WINDOW ROCK -- Zero dollars, zero cents. That's exactly how much funding is proposed in the Bush Administration's $2.9 trillion FY2008 budget for Navajo-Gallup pipeline planning, tribal jails and courts. Bush's budget plan slashes $1.25 billion from Department of Justice-funded tribal programs, eliminating money for tribal jails, grants, and courts.
Members of the Navajo Nation Public Safety Committee went to Washington to lobby for increased funding for Navajo public safety/judicial complexes. Now, it appears the committee will have to lobby extremely har to receive any funding at all.
In addition, no funding was requested for studies associated with the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project, according to U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici's office. In FY2006, the project received $479,000.
Chris Gallegos of Domenici's office said, "This is generally yearly funding provided to continue study of the project. I cannot comment as to why the administration did not request funding for FY2008."
Responding to a question about the Navajo-Gallup pipeline during his weekly radio address, Domenici, R-N.M., vowed his support after initially appearing to struggle to remember the name of the water project, which was supplied by the reporter.
"We're going to have a lot of fun in the future here talking about the monies we're going to be working on to get the big payment paid for, so we can get the water in the ... Navajo-Gallup water project," he said.
"I'm going to devote more time and make it a dedication of mine to see if we can get that done. It's going to be hard, but I've decided that it's time to put my muscle behind it and see what we can do."
Domenici said U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., has not yet introduced the legislation for the water supply project. "He has an awful lot on his plate. We're going to get that done. I'm not in any way critical. We've been working very hard and working together,which I like very, very much."
Bingaman's office said last week that the senator plans to introduce the legislation in March.
While the president's budget requests funding for some important Indian Country issues, Bingaman said, overall it makes deep cuts to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The budget contains a $16 million increase in funding for the BIA's Safe Indian Communities Initiative, aimed at assisting law enforcement in their efforts to combat methamphetamine abuse. However, if cuts in the DOJ budget are approved, programs to fund jails on tribal lands would be slashed to $0 in FYO8, down from $12 million in FY07.
The Indian Country grant program would be cut to $0 from $4 million in FY07. The tribal courts initiative also would receive zilch, down from $7 million in FY07.
Bush's budget would eliminate the Urban Indian Health program, a $33 million cut, and the Housing Improvement Program, a $19 million cut. Also included is a $24 million cut for Health Care Facilities Construction, a $17.5 million cut for Education Construction, and a $5 million cut for Post-Secondary Scholarships.
"While I welcome the additional resources to combat meth in Indian Country and appreciate the Administration's efforts to raise awareness of this important issue, I am deeply concerned about how other cuts in the budget will adversely impact the ability of tribes to fight crime," Bingaman said.
Domenici said the budget plan is cause for serious concern in New Mexico, as it also means significant reductions for weapons work carried out at Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories.
U.S. Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., said, "Implementing the President's budget would prove devastating to the American people. Included are substantial cuts to health care programs, education and the environment which would help fund more of the same Bush tax policies that benefit only those who need it the least," Udall said.
"I am disappointed that he has proposed a plan to once again sell off public lands, to cut the Interior budget by nearly $700 million, and to slash dollars for health care programs -- particularly in rural areas.
"Although the President and I do not have many shared priorities and his new budget request is not surprising, I am nonetheless disappointed in many of the budget items he has outlined for cuts," Udall said.
A senior member of the Senate Budget Committee, Domenici predicted critical congressional review of the budget plan which will be the basis for a FY2008 Budget Resolution and subsequent appropriations measures to fund the government next year.
"The President's FY2008 budget poses some serious concerns, and Congress will have to consider it carefully. It underscores the increasing pressure on our federal budget, and it will not get better easily," he said.
"I'm not happy about this budget's recommendations for the national labs, education and health care," Domenici said. "It is clear that we will have to work hard to make up funding where we think it is most needed."
"I like the budget's overall commitment to basic science and energy independence in the Energy Department budget plan," Domenici said. "But I am seriously concerned with proposed cuts to DOE weapons programs. Under this plan, we face tight budgets for our weapons labs."
DOE proposes spending $1.27 billion at Sandia National Laboratory and $1.83 billion at Los Alamos National Laboratory. That amounts to cuts of about 6 percent for Los Alamos and about 8 percent for Sandia.
Follow The Money!
Comparing the FY2007 budget requests to the FY2008 requests, Domenici said LANL, will see a $61 million cut in advanced computing and a $47 million reduction in Directed Stockpile Work. It would, however, receive a $46 million increase for security upgrades and a $50 million increase, to $140 million, for environmental cleanup activities at Los Alamos. Sandia would see a $42 million cut in advanced computing and $26 million less for Directed Stockpile Work.
The baseline budget for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad is $219.7 million, a $6.4 million increase from the FY2007 budget request. The funding increase will support an increased number of shipments from around the complex, including remote-handled transuranic waste, according to Domenici's office.
At the same time that the Department of Energy plans to increase shipments of high-level radioactive waste through New Mexico to the WIPP, the Bush budget proposes less funding for transportation and only a $1.5 million increase for community support.
The WIPP budget includes $133 million for operations, $32 million for central characterization, $27 million for transportation (down $5.8 million)and $27 million for community support, such as the WIPP Emergency Services Liaison proposed to coordinate community education efforts on the Navajo Nation regarding the waste shipments.
Domenici said the Department of Defense budget recommends $3.7 billion for 20 new F-22s in FY2008, which will replace the F-117 Stealth Fighters that will be retired from Holloman Air Force Base in the new fiscal year.
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