(Washington, D.C.) Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers today applauded the President’s efforts to balance the budget without raising taxes in his Fiscal Year 2008 budget proposal. While the budget does propose funding for programs important to Eastern Washington, McMorris Rodgers is critical of efforts to raise BPA rates and zero out funding for rural health programs and the Perkins Loan program.
“Our budget must continue to support pro-growth policies that create jobs and allow people and businesses of Eastern Washington to keep more of their own money,” said Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers. “We can all find parts of the President’s budget with which we agree and disagree. It is important to remember that this budget is just a proposal, and that I will work in Congress to ensure that programs important to Eastern Washington receive the necessary funding.”
“I was disappointed to see that funding for the 36th Rescue Flight Helicopter stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base was not included in the budget. I will continue to bring regional representatives together to stand up for the 36th and their crucial role in Eastern Washington.”
Highlights of the President’s budget proposal include an extra $350 million for the program to replace the aging KC-135 refueling tankers at Fairchild Air Force Base. Funding was also included for the American Competitiveness program, which will put more teachers into the fields of math, science, and foreign language.
As in past years, The FY08 budget proposal would require the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) to use surplus revenues to pay down their debt. It has the potential to increase consumer electricity rates by 10 percent by mandating that surplus revenues can only be used for debt reduction and not rate reduction. Last October, McMorris Rodgers joined with other members of the Northwest delegation in sending a letter to the Administration urging them to leave BPA rates alone.
“Once again, the Administration has unfortunately chosen to target our region’s low energy rates through their BPA secondary rate proposal,” continued McMorris Rodgers. “Although this year they are encouraging a dialogue to take place before this proposal is implemented, that does not change the fact that using surplus revenues to pay down debt will only harm the economy of the Pacific Northwest. This proposal has failed in the past, and I am confident that this year will be no different. However, the third-party financing proposal also included in the budget is a positive step in allowing us to invest more in the needed expansion of our transmission system.”
Missing from the President’s budget proposal is funding for crucial rural health programs that are important to Eastern Washington such as Outreach Grants and Flexibility Grants. These grants play an essential role in providing quality and affordable health care to rural communities.
Finally, McMorris Rodgers will work to restore funding for the successful Perkins Loan Program, which was zeroed in the budget. For over 50 years, the Perkins Loan Program has offered long-term, low-interest loans to disadvantaged students. For the past two years, McMorris Rodgers has helped lead a bipartisan effort to restore funding.