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President Bush’s Budget and Vermont

The President’s 2008 Budget continues the focus on pro-growth policies that have helped fuel our Nation’s strong economic expansion. The President’s tax relief helped generate increased economic activity that resulted in strong job creation and record tax receipts in the last two years, even in the face of historic challenges – the 2001 recession, corporate scandals, 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina. Our robust and resilient economy, coupled with disciplined spending restraint, has helped cut the deficit in half three years ahead of schedule and put the budget on a path to balance by 2012.

While working with Congress to successfully reduce the growth in non-security discretionary spending, the President continues to invest in the Nation’s prosperity and security. To keep the economy vibrant, the Budget makes tax relief permanent, and proposes pro-growth policies to improve education, health care, and energy security.

The FY08 Budget also takes steps to improve the budget process, including proposals such as comprehensive earmark reform and a legislative line item veto. Lastly, to tackle the unsustainable growth of entitlement programs, the biggest long-term budget challenge, the Budget will make sensible steps toward reforming these vital entitlement programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, to ensure they are sustainable in the long-term.

Focusing On National Priorities

The 2008 Budget makes necessary investments in the Global War on Terror and homeland security, as well as addresses three key issues that are on the minds of many Americans: the quality and cost of their children’s education, rising health care costs, and our Nation’s dependence on foreign sources of energy from unstable parts of the world.

  • Fighting the War on Terror. The 2008 Budget invests substantial resources to maintain the high level of military readiness for the Department of Defense and provides resources to continue its transformation to meet new threats in the 21st century. It also provides additional resources dedicated to strengthening democratic institutions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond, by promoting economic opportunity, and improving self-sufficiency while also building the capacity of our allies to contribute to this effort through key anti-terrorism and security assistance initiatives.
  • Defending the Homeland. The Budget invests in homeland security and terrorism prevention through increased funding for nuclear detection, more secure borders, high-tech screening capabilities, and forging a closer partnership with local and State law enforcement. These essential initiatives are working to protect our national security.
  • Ensuring our Children’s Success. No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is already working to ensure all students perform at or above grade level in reading and math by 2014. The 2008 Budget builds on the successes of NCLB to better prepare our students for college or the workplace by providing significant new resources and other reforms that will result in more progress. It also offers new school choice options so children in low-performing schools have a chance to attend a school where they can learn and succeed. To help low-income families afford college, the 2008 Budget increases the Pell Grants maximum award from the current level of $4,050 to $4,600 in 2008, and to $5,400 over the next five years. It also increases the Academic Competitiveness Grants maximum awards for freshman and sophomores.
  • Reducing Health Care Costs and Improving Access. The 2008 Budget also improves Americans’ access to affordable health care by changing the tax treatment of health care to provide individuals resources to access more affordable health care, allowing small businesses and civic and community groups to pool together to leverage their bargaining power, and reducing frivolous lawsuits that increase patients’ costs.
  • Increasing our Energy Security. The Budget includes a number of proposals to increase our energy security while improving our environment. Specifically, the President is proposing to increase the current standards for alternative fuels use and for fuel economy in order to cut, by 2017, our domestic gasoline consumption by 20 percent and substantially reduce vehicle air pollution and CO2 emissions compared to projections. The Budget also continues the Advanced Energy Initiative to improve the reliability of energy supplies to American families and businesses. To insure against major supply disruptions that could harm our economy, the Budget proposes to double the protection provided by the Strategic Petroleum Reserve by expanding the reserve to 1.5 billion barrels.

Budget Items of Interest to Vermont

  • $29 million in Title I Education Grants to help Vermont devote new funds to reform high schools by improving students’ college readiness while also increasing funding to elementary schools. This funding is a 10.75 percent increase over 2007.
  • $3.7 million for the School Breakfast Program in Vermont to help local non-profit programs to help Vermont provide affordable and healthy breakfasts to [K-12] students for increased childhood wellness and fitness. This funding is a 6.64 percent increase over 2007.
  • $6 million in State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) funds to help Vermont provide health coverage to low-income, uninsured children who do not qualify for Medicaid.
  • $33.2 million for the acquisition of 23 acres of land and the design and construction of the Derby Line Land Port of Entry. The project will replace the existing administration building and provide additional inspection lanes while addressing current safety, security, vehicular circulation, and operational efficiency.

President Bush’s Budget Also Includes:

  • Up to $3 billion over 10 years in new Federal and private spending for the President’s National Park Centennial Commitment and Challenge that will achieve new levels of excellence in our parks. These funds will complete signature projects in parks; hire 3,000 more seasonal national park rangers, guides and maintenance workers; repair buildings; improve landscapes; and enroll more children in Junior/Web Ranger programs.