Washington - United States Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Frank R. Lautenberg today denounced President Bushs proposed budget for the next fiscal year a budget that would have disastrous implications on critical programs and services on which millions of New Jerseyans depend. From homeland security grants, to first responders, to energy assistance for needy families, the presidents budget slashes funding for the programs and services most important to New Jersey families and communities.
"After sifting through over 2,200 pages of documents, covering four volumes, it is crystal clear that this budget is one big rotten tomato," Menendez said. "This budget sacrifices programs and services for New Jerseys families on the altar of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Fortunately, we are not stuck with President Bushs horrible first-draft. I will be working with Senator Lautenberg to ensure that New Jerseyans receive the care, protection and services that they need."
"This budget would do more to hurt than help the people of New Jersey. The Bush budget will shortchange health insurance for the states poorest children, cut higher education programs, and slash homeland security grants almost in half," said Lautenberg. "The presidents budget priorities are wrong for New Jersey and wrong for the nation. I am confident that the final budget approved by the Democratic Congress will be substantially different than what President Bush proposed today."
A preliminary assessment of the presidents proposed fiscal year 2008 budget uncovered a series of reckless cuts to programs and services critical to New Jersey families. The budget inexplicably cuts state homeland security grants almost by half. These funds, which help first responders and local governments prepare for and respond to terrorist attacks, are critical for communities with high-risk targets like New Jersey. New Jerseys funding has already been cut dramatically in recent years.
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps 165,000 families in New Jersey with heating costs, had its budget cut by 18 percent. The president also slashes Clean Water funding to New Jersey by $8 million. These critical funds help communities upgrade their infrastructure and ensure water used for drinking, swimming and other recreation are free of untreated sewage and other contaminants.
Additionally, the budget cuts Amtrak funding by 38 percent, falling far short of what Amtrak says it needs to keep running. An Amtrak shutdown would strand nearly 100,000 commuters a day who ride NJ Transit trains along the Northeast Corridor.
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 cuts proposed by President Bush.