Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) today unveiled the Senate Democratic Caucus’ “Rural Report Card,” a report that illustrates the President’s neglect of domestic programs critical to rural America. The rural state Senators argued that the President’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2009 does not reflect a strong commitment to the priorities of rural Americans, making drastic cuts to rural healthcare, education, economic development, law enforcement, and agriculture.
“The president’s budget is out of sync with Nevada’s priorities,” Senator Reid said. “First, it raises taxes by excluding the sales tax deduction, which is currently available to Nevadans and residents of many other states that have no state income tax. On top of that, every year since he has taken office, the President has proposed cuts to Payment in Lieu of Taxes (or PILT) payments to rural communities, which rely on them to offset property tax losses in counties with large amounts of federal lands. Nevada, for example, is 87 percent federally owned. I will continue my work with my Senate colleagues to strengthen our rural communities by fully funding PILT and by creating rural jobs through investments in renewable energy.”
“In his final budget proposal to Congress, the President once again calls for working families and small businesses in rural America to make disproportionate sacrifices, while continuing his push to make tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans permanent,” said Senator Lincoln, Chair of Rural Outreach for the Senate Democratic Caucus. “Unfortunately, the President is leaving rural America behind with his misguided spending proposals and cuts to programs valued by our working families, seniors, and children in rural areas. The President’s budget reflects a real neglect of rural Americans and their priorities.”
“The President’s budget is once again seeking to dismantle our rural health programs,” said Senator Dorgan, Chairman of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. “If we can find more than $800 million to rebuild health care facilities in Iraq, we should be able to find the resources to ensure rural communities in our own country have access to health care.”
“For reasons beyond understanding, the Bush Administration has grown increasingly hostile to the interests of rural America. We must continue to fight to protect and promote programs for America’s rural families, like the Farm Bill,” said Senator Conrad, Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. “The new Farm Bill makes major investments in the food and energy security for our nation. We now need to send a clear message to the Administration – do not veto this Farm Bill.”