Senate Democrats

Senate, House Democrats: President’s Budget Hurts Latino Families

Washington, DC – Today, Senator Robert Menéndez (D-NJ) joined Congressman John M. Spratt (D-SC), Chairman of the House Committee on the Budget, Congressman Joe Baca (D-CA), Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Congressman Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Assistant to the Speaker, to discuss how President Bush’s new proposed budget will hurt Latino families. Also today, the Senate Democratic Policy Committee (DPC) issued a report detailing how the President’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2008 negatively impacts Latinos. Highlights of the report’s findings as well as a link to the full report are below. "What has become clear is that the president is great at giving speeches before Hispanic audiences," Menéndez said. "But when we look at his budget – we see he isn’t so good at funding the programs and services critical to the Hispanic community. The Hispanic community wants more than well-written statements, Mr. President. The Hispanic community wants education programs funded at the promised levels and we want you to fund the programs and services our communities depend on." "The President’s budget makes the wrong choice for American families of all ethnicities," Spratt said. "At the same time as the budget drives the deficit higher, it also cuts vital investments in children and families in order to pay for nearly $2 trillion in tax cuts over the next ten years for those who need help the least. As the Senate’s DPC report unveiled today shows, these cuts are especially burdensome for Latino families, with sever cuts in education, health, and other vital programs." "President Bush has repeatedly reduced funding for programs that benefit Hispanic working families. Unfortunately, this year is no different," Baca said. "The President’s budget for 2008 includes cuts in education and healthcare that disproportionately affect the Hispanic community’s most vulnerable members, our children. And that is immoral." "The president’s budget is not D.O.A. — dead on arrival — but it is certainly more of same," Becerra said. "More of the same tax cuts to the wealthy, and more of same cuts to programs that target and help the working class, many of whom are Latinos. We must reward work, and democrats will chart a new direction and write a budget that makes sense and is fiscally responsible. Highlights of the DPC document, Budget Report: The President’s FY 2008 Request Fails to Address the Needs of Latinos: To access the full report, please visit: http://democrats.senate.gov/dpc/dpc-new.cfm?doc_name=fs-110-1-28 President Bush’s budget for Fiscal Year 2008 once again fails Latinos by severely cutting programs that directly impact the quality of life for many families. As this brief summary demonstrates, the President’s reductions in funding for education, health care, and economic security are a small sample of how the President’s budget is disproportionately weighted against Latinos. Democrats believe these are the wrong priorities not just for Latinos, but for all Americans. EDUCATION The Bush Administration’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2008, demonstrates the President’s continued disregard for Latino students. Nearly one in five students in our public schools is Hispanic, yet the President’s budget proposal continuingly fails to adequately fund critical educational priorities that secures better educational opportunities for Latino students. The 2008 budget request fails to make college more affordable for Latino students. In spite of the dramatically rising costs of college, the President’s budget fails does not address growing concerns about the affordability of a college education. The President’s budget only contains enough discretionary funds to maintain the current maximum Pell Grant of $4,050. While the President proposes an increase in the maximum Pell Grants from $4,050 to $4,600 in Fiscal Year 2008 and to $5,400 by Fiscal Year 2012, he aims to pay for part of the increases with cuts and program eliminations that would hurt other students. The President proposes to eliminate the Perkins Loan, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, and Leveraging Education Assistance Partnerships programs, each of which also helps lower-income students afford a college education. The budget request would terminate other key education programs for Latino students. The President proposes to eliminate 44 discretionary education programs, including Leveraging Education Assistance Partnership Grants (LEAP), education technology state grants, school counseling, mentoring, parent information and resource centers, physical education, dropout prevention, school leadership, and Tech Prep State grants. HEALTH CARE Unfortunately, the President’s budget proposal will cause even more distress for millions of Latinos who with the highest uninsurance rate in the nation are already deeply concerned about access and affordability to health care. In fact, 1 out of every 3 Latinos does not have health insurance. At the same time, his budget proposes another round of deep cuts to Medicare and Medicaid totaling close to $300 billion over ten years. With 39.3 percent of Hispanic children who are covered by Medicaid, these cuts will create a disproportionate hardship for Latino families. The President’s budget jeopardizes Latino children by undermining the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The budget proposes adding only one-third of the funding necessary to maintain current coverage levels in the program, putting millions of low-income children and others at risk of losing their health insurance. ECONOMIC AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT Latino families and small businesses face a changing global economy and increasing costs, and economic development programs provide tools that help them compete. The Bush budget would drastically cut key economic initiatives. The budget proposes decreases in funding for Community Development Block Grants. The Bush budget proposes to cut funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program by $736 million below the H.J. Res. 20 level. The CDBG program provides eligible metropolitan areas with annual direct grants that can be used to revitalize Latino neighborhoods, expand affordable housing and economic opportunities, and improve community facilities and services. The budget eliminates key funding for Latino small businesses. The Bush budget once again proposes the elimination of funding for the microloan and microloan technical assistance programs, which were funded at $22 million and $13 million, respectively, for 2007. These loans are essential to many Latino entrepreneurs.

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