February 01, 2005

Crapo: Idaho Priorities Included In Budget

Nuclear power, salmon, education, veterans to benefit

Washington, D.C. â?? Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, voted in favor of the Fiscal Year 2005 Budget resolution that was passed early this morning in the Senate by a vote of 51-45. Crapo, who helped manage the legislation during the week-long debate, announced that a number of Idaho priorities are reflected in the resolution including funding proposals for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, Title I grants, veterans medical care, and fire suppression. The resolution works as the blueprint for taxes and spending as legislative decisions are made throughout the year. â??This yearâ??s budget includes spending caps that are critical to deficit reduction,â?? Crapo said. â??Over the past several days, we have debated the merits of many amendments to the budget. Ultimately, we have passed a resolution that puts us on a path to restore our national economy, while still providing for important priorities. Though it will be a tough budget year in many ways, the budget addresses several issues important to Idaho. Within the framework of fiscal discipline, it appropriately recognizes the need to support ongoing efforts in several important areas, which include a number in Idaho.â??Senate Budget Committee Chairman Don Nickles said of Crapoâ??s efforts, â??This is a challenging budget year. The deficits we face are unacceptable and we have to bring them down, while still providing for defense and security efforts and making sure families arenâ??t hit with a tax increase during this economic recovery. I appreciate Senator Crapoâ??s hard work on the Budget Committee to write a budget that achieved those objectives. His contributions and leadership are critical as we work to restore fiscal discipline and meet important national priorities.â??The Budget Resolution includes the following:$55 million increase to support the Department of Energyâ??s nuclear initiatives specifically, the Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems Initiative, the Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative, and the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative, all of which will directly benefit the Idaho National Laboratory and its charter to become a World Class Nuclear Technology lab; $8 million earmarked for Idaho under the Pacific Coast Salmon Recovery Fund, the full amount of the Presidentâ??s request and an increase to Idaho of $3 million dollars over FY 2004. Last year Crapo convinced the Administration to include Idaho in the Fund for the first time. Idaho recently received its first $5 million for the Fund. The Crapo amendment to add $3 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Funds. $1 billion increase to states in each of the next two years for Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) Part B grants. Four consecutive $1 billion increases will have raised the federal share of average per pupil expenditures to nearly 20 percent, the highest level of federal support ever provided to disabled children. With 2005 funding at $11.1 billion, funding for Part B grants would have increased $4.7 billion (75 percent) since 2001. $29.1 billion for veteranâ??s medical care, an increase of $1.4 billion over 2004. Veterans medical care spending has grown by 100 percent since 1993 and 42 percent since 2001. $907 million for fire suppression within the Forest Service and the Department of Interior. This is $117 million more than was spent last year. In addition, in an effort to provide for more timely distribution of emergency firefighting funds, the resolution includes language that will allow for up to $500 million in additional funds for wildfire suppression to be available if certain emergency conditions exist. $100 million in funding for Small Business Development Centers, an increase of $12 million from FY 2004 levels. $13.3 billion in 2005 for Title I grants to Local Education Agenciesâ??the largest component of No Child Left Behind. This $1 billion (8.1 percent) increase over 2004 would fund services to disadvantaged students and improvements for low-performing schools. At this level, funding for Title I grants would be $4.6 billion (52 percent) greater than in 2001. Title I funding is available to school districts based on percentages of low-income students. # # #