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February 6, 2008

Congresswoman Velázquez Responds to President Bush’s FY2009 Budget Proposal

The Measure Would Cut Important Programs and Hurt New York’s Working Families

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.) today expressed her disappointment that the Bush Administration has released yet another budget that would do more harm than good for working families and urban communities.  The budget, proposed earlier this week by President George W. Bush, outlines his spending priorities for all federal government programs.  It includes devastating cuts to housing, healthcare, and economic development initiatives designed to help Americans and revitalize our neighborhoods.

“The cost of living keeps on rising and President Bush wants to make things worse.  We need to invest in our communities, not short change them with cuts to vital programs,” Congresswoman Velázquez said. 

Despite the housing crisis impacting neighborhoods across the nation, President Bush has proposed funding reductions for vital federal housing programs.  The overall budget for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) would be cut by five percent, disproportionately impacting low-income families, elderly residents and minority groups. 

“This President has mismanaged the nation’s finances, and he’s making New Yorkers pay the price,” Congresswoman Velázquez said.  “President Bush wants to cut funding for housing and urban development projects by $1.9 billion.  This can only mean that programs with a proven rate of success will be unable to continue providing critical resources to New Yorkers.”

In January, the national economy lost 17,000 jobs – the first time in nearly five years that the United States has experienced a decrease of this type.  With this grim picture emerging, the Administration’s budget unwisely neglects the needs of small business owners by slashing programs to make affordable capital readily available and encourage the creation and growth of small firms.

“The President’s budget fails to recognize the current economic realities.  Small businesses fuel the economy in a downturn, yet key initiatives to benefit entrepreneurs are terminated or cut in the President’s budget.  This is the absolute wrong move at a time when the economy isn’t creating new jobs.”

A number of priorities important to New Yorkers were negatively impacted by the proposal released today.  These include:

Public Housing Programs: In his Fiscal Year 2009 budget, Bush decreased overall funding for public housing programs by five percent.  The operating fund level needed to keep our public housing developments running was short changed by $900 million. Compounding the problem, the capital fund program would be cut by $413 million—including a cut of $74.9 million in New York. This would jeopardize repairs to buildings and place at risk the safety of tenants.  These cuts would come at a time when the New York City Housing Authority announced a $198 million deficit for Fiscal Year 2009.

Housing Assistance for Elderly and Disabled: President Bush ignores the needs of our most vulnerable residents by proposing a 27 percent cut to an important elderly housing assistance program, as well as a 32 percent decrease in funding for a housing program benefiting the disabled.

Economic Development: For the third year in a row, funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program was drastically reduced—from $4.2 billion in FY08 to just $2.9 billion in FY09.  For New York City, this would mean a loss of $64.5 million in funding.  The proposed cut threatens a program that has helped to revitalize urban neighborhoods through job creation, spurring economic development and expansion of home ownership. 

Healthcare: President Bush has proposed to cut Medicare and Medicaid funding by $195.6 billion over five years, threatening to leave seniors and low-income residents without the coverage they need.  In addition, the FY09 budget cuts funding for the Centers for Disease Control by $433 million.     

Small Businesses: Programs with a history of benefiting New York entrepreneurs would receive substantial cuts or be eliminated altogether under the President’s proposed budget.  The services provided by New York’s five Women’s Business Centers are in high demand, yet the President’s proposed budget slashes funding for these and other small business development programs.  In addition, the Bush administration budget includes no funding for the Microloan Technical Assistance program, which helps many minority- and women-owned firms access the capital they need to get their businesses off the ground.