Washington, DC—In a vote today, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) opposed the House GOP budget resolution for FY 2006, which he says fails Western New Yorkers and the people of Chautauqua County, disproportionately hurting rural communities and the families throughout our region.
“Far too often, rural counties are left out of the important policy debates in Washington – and it’s happening right now with the budget we voted on today in the House,” said Congressman Higgins. “People in Chautauqua County deserve a budget that recognizes its unique contributions and needs. In this part of Western New York, supporting agriculture means creating jobs. Fair treatment from the federal government on health care in Chautauqua County can mean the difference between life and death. And I don’t think it unreasonable to ask that kids in Chautauqua County are given the same opportunities as their peers in Buffalo and Lackawanna. When we look at how families and communities in Chautauqua County and in rural districts all over the country are treated in this budget, we know that we can do better.”
In this budget, agriculture funding takes one of the biggest hits, including a net cut of $5.7 billion over 10 years from farm programs through restrictions on marketing loans, a 5 percent reduction in farm program payments and modifications to the dairy program. Among programs which will be cut include Rural Business Enterprise Grants, Rural Business Opportunity Grants, and Rural Empowerment Zones (EZ)/Enterprise Communities (EC).
The budget also fails to create jobs for a thriving economy in Chautauqua County by cutting funding for 17 different community and economic development programs that provide housing, employment counseling, water and sewer improvements, and small business loans. The budget fails to strengthen education, health care and housing for rural families and communities. Even though rural areas face tremendous challenges in health care, the budget slashes rural health activities by $114 million below this year’s enacted level – or by 64 percent.
The President’s budget proposes to freeze funding for rural education, even though one-third of children attend public schools in towns or cities with less than 25,000 people. And this budget slashes funding for Section 515 multi-family housing the core affordable housing program by 73 percent, and cuts rural housing direct loans loan volume by $141 million.
The over 70,000 veterans in the 27th District will have their health care costs raised, increasing drug co-payments and imposing new enrollment fees that will cost all veterans more than $2 billion over five years and drive more than 200,000 veterans out of the system entirely. The budget continues the Disabled Veterans Tax, passing a false promise of a plan that undermines a secure retirement for the over 5,000 disabled veterans in New York. We need to keep our promises to our men and women who have honorably served our country.