Washington, DC—As President George W. Bush released his proposed 2009 budget to Congress today, U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) was disappointed to see the funding levels the President set for water projects like Lewis & Clark and Mni Wiconi.
The President’s request is 37% below the funding levels enacted by Congress for 2008 with the President proposing $16.154 million for Lewis and Clark and $26.24 for Mni Wiconi’s construction and operations budget.
In December, the South Dakota delegation called on Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Jim Nussle and the White House to keep funding for the Lewis & Clark project on track to bring water to more than 300,000 people in 20 communities in three states. Budget Director Nussle told members of the South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa congressional delegations that the budget would reflect out nation’s “highest priorities” and promote “sustained economic growth.”
“Lewis and Clark needed up to $35 million to keep the project moving forward. We’re willing to work with the President, but this is less than half of what they need. This budget is unrealistic and short-sighted. Tax cuts for Wall Street millionaires have found their place in the President’s budget, but the 300,000 people from our tri-state area were told their drinking water isn’t important enough to fully fund,” Johnson said.
“I am a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. I consider the President’s budget a start and not the end. However, the President has made fully funding this project this year very difficult by not placing a priority on funding infrastructure and keeping the economy here at home moving forward,” Johnson continued.
Last year, the President requested only $15 million for the Lewis & Clark Project. Using his seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Johnson was able to bring the number up to $26.58 million in the final budget.
Budget ‘09 FY’08 enacted FY’07 enacted
Lewis & Clark $16.154 million $26.568 m $21 million
Mni Wiconi - construction $16.24 million $28.197 m $28.64 million
Mni Wiconi – operations & maintenance $10 million $9.374m $9.526 million
Perkins County $0 $2.952m $200,000
Total $42.394 million $67.091 million $59.366 million
NOTE: A more detailed budget release will follow this one.