Md. Education, Environment Would Suffer Under Bush Budget, Study Finds - Southern Maryland Headline News

Md. Education, Environment Would Suffer Under Bush Budget, Study Finds

By ESTHER NGUONLY, Capital News Service

WASHINGTON - Education, clean water programs, low-income home energy assistance and other key programs will suffer under the president's proposed 2008 budget, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found in an analysis released Wednesday.

The budget would cut $31.5 million in funding for elementary and secondary education in Maryland in 2012, according to the center's report.

Additionally, in 2008 the new budget would trim $10.7 million from Environmental Protection Agency clean water programs in Maryland, as well as cut $6.6 million from low-income home energy assistance, according to the center. The reductions are relative to the funding level in 2007 adjusted for inflation.

The president's proposed budget is not fiscally responsible, said Sharon Parrott, one of the study's authors.

The federal deficit will actually be larger in the long term, and if approved, the budget would result in cuts from important programs such as K-12 education, she said. The reductions would also require states to raise taxes or reduce public services to account for the loss, according to the center.

The deficit is projected to decrease to $239 billion in fiscal year 2008 by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Maryland would lose a total of $189.2 million in grants in aid for states and localities, relative to the 2006 level adjusted for inflation, according to the report.

The center's analysis assumed cuts would be made proportional to the amount each state received.

However, most of the proposals affecting states and local communities are designed to bring the right amount of money to the ones that need it most, said Sean Kevelighan, a spokesman for the White House Office of Management and Budget.

OMB stayed away from looking at 'part and partial sums' that are attached to a lot of red tape, Kevelighan said.

"We want to make sure the taxpayer dollars are spent wisely," Kevelighan said. "We stand behind the proposal that we put together."

With the Democrats controlling Congress and in view of the upcoming presidential election, it is uncertain whether tax cuts will be extended, as the report projects will happen if the budget is approved.

It is unlikely that any major fiscal decisions would be made until after the 2008 elections, said Robert Greenstein, center executive director.

"I don't think we're going to see legislation this year that makes tax cuts permanent," he said.

"The president has proposed to eliminate the budget deficit in five years without raising taxes by maintaining successful pro-growth economic policies and by restraining the growth in federal spending," said Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick. "I never forget that every dollar the government spends comes from taxes earned by workers or is borrowed from our kids and grandkids."

"However, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities wants the government to spend more and tax more of your money," said Bartlett.

Nationally, the administration's proposed budget would cut funding to programs by 7.6 percent, or $34 billion, in 2012, according to the analysis.

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