NJ Senators: Bush Education Budget Fall Far Short

NJ Senators: Bush Education Budget Fall Far Short

New Jersey lawmakers release analysis of Bush budget impact on Garden State

Washington - United States Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Frank R. Lautenberg today released their assessment of the Bush education budget and its impact on the Garden State. The lawmakers said while there are a few encouraging measures in the president's proposals, those gains are off-set by deep cuts to educational and training programs that serve New Jersey's neediest students. The budget freezes or cuts funding for programs such as TRIO and GEAR UP, vocational education, as well as Perkins Loans.

"Were it not for Perkins Loans, I would not have attended college and almost certainly would not be a U.S. Senator today," Menendez said. "When the president repeatedly tries to slash funding for programs like Perkins, I take that personally because I know it's about more than numbers and spreadsheets - it's about opportunity and hope for millions of young New Jerseyans and their families. I will never understand why the president believes it's better to give a multi-billionaire a tax break, rather than giving a low-income student federal aid for college. I will work along with my colleagues to undo the damage this budget poses to millions of New Jerseyans who want to get ahead through education."

"The president's education budget deserves an 'F'," said Lautenberg. "After running on an education platform during his election campaign, he is leaving our children behind. And the president is completely ignoring the rising cost of college tuition. As a member of the education appropriations subcommittee, I will work to make sure that Congress provides appropriate resources for students and schools."

The president's budget for the upcoming fiscal year once again calls for an overall cut to federal education spending, $1.5 billion less than the joint funding resolution pending in Congress, or a 2.6 percent cut from the current level of $57.5 billion. The proposed budget zeroes out funding for dropout prevention and mentoring programs, and slashes funding for Safe and Drug Free Schools by 70 percent. New Jersey has received more than $10 million in funding from these programs for anti-drug and violence prevention; however, the president's cuts would result in a $5.4 million cut for New Jersey in the upcoming fiscal year.

President Bush once again moves to freeze funding for TRIO and GEAR UP, critical programs that help low-income, high-risk, and first generation young people receive skills, mentoring, and support to help them enroll in, and graduate from, college. New Jersey receives more than $19 million in funds and is able to serve over 20,000 students through this funding. Similarly troubling, the budget cuts Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, which provide more than $16.5 million to more than 30,000 New Jersey students, and the Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership program that provides New Jersey $2 million to help leverage college scholarships.

Menendez and Lautenberg, both members of the Senate Budget Committee, pledged to work within the Congressional budget process to ensure New Jerseyans are not forced to endure the major education cuts proposed by President Bush.

# # #