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Report: Bush's Budget Could Take Some Shine Out of the Silver State

February 21, 2008

Las Vegas, NV – They're just cuts on paper, but they could sting far worse than paper cuts. A new report says President Bush's proposed 2009 budget includes $20 billion in cuts to domestic programs, at a time when states like Nevada can least afford it.

The Silver State would lose more than $8 million for its vocational and adult education program, according to Nevada Legal Services' Statewide Advocacy Coordinator, Jon Sasser. He says the budget also slashes Community Development Block Grants by $4 million.

"In Nevada, we are already facing a $540 million shortfall. An additional cost shift from Washington is very, very troubling and problematic, reducing our state budget by tens of millions of dollars."

This is just the beginning of the budget process, and Sharon Parrott with the Center for Budget Policies and Priorities believes it will be a battle over priorities between Congress and the White House.

"President Bush pushes to extend all the tax cuts, including tax reductions for very wealthy Americans, while cutting scores of programs. Programs like Head Start, childcare, education, environmental protection. I think the obvious question going forward is, 'What will the priorities be for Congress?'"

The Center for Budget Policy and Priorities estimates 4,500 families could be impacted by proposed cuts to the federal energy assistance program that helps low-income Nevadans keep the heat on during the winter months.
Sasser worries that these types of decreases will hit the state's poorest citizens the hardest.

"Mental health services, low-income energy assistance, all the types of programs that low-income people rely on, are continuing to get cut, and cut, and cut, at least relative to inflation."

Sasser sees one of two outcomes as a result of the President's budget: Either families will go without critical services, or the already hard-pressed state government will end up picking up the tab. Bush has maintained that his budget reduces the costs of various programs to levels the country can afford.

The full report is available online at www.cbpp.org.

Michael Clifford/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - NV