As the House and Senate Budget Committees act on President Obama’s budget this week, the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of the budget deficit has created new pressure to reduce spending. Fifteen Senators, and a number of House members, have already suggested that Congress must reduce spending significantly below the levels that President Obama requested.
But Minnesotans need to be aware that reducing spending on domestic appropriations could make this recession longer and hurt our lakes, rivers, streams and Great Outdoors while doing very little to reduce the long term deficit.
As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities warns policy makers:
“They should not make the recession, which CBO now projects will be the worst since World War II, even deeper by reducing federal expenditures in 2010 well below the levels that President Obama has proposed. Doing so would result in less demand for goods and services at a time when the CBO report makes clear the economy will continue to need a large boost.”
Moreover, President Obama’s budget calls for a dramatic increase in funding for clean water, $3.9 billion, at a time when Minnesota desperately needs to invest in protecting and restoring our lakes, rivers and streams.
Minnesota, like many states, has serious and urgent wastewater treatment needs. Many communities are relying on antiquated systems that were built decades ago and have reached the end of their useful lives. In other communities, systems have not been able to keep up with population growth, overburdening some systems and pushing others to their maximum capacity. In nearly 100 small communities with limited financial resources, there is no functioning treatment system at all and raw untreated sewage is being discharged directly into surface waters. According to the EPA, Minnesota’s current wastewater infrastructure needs total $3.6 billion.
This week, Congress is drafting a budget blueprint for spending in the year ahead—and the full House and Senate is expected to vote on it next week. In order to make the important new investments in clean water requested by the President, Congress needs to adopt a budget blueprint that permits appropriations at the level requested by President Obama.
For more information about the impact of President Obama’s budget proposal on environment and natural resources protection in Minnesota, check out a brief analysis recently prepared for MEP (pdf).