Abourezk: Bush cutting vital Indian programs
"You couldn't hardly have scripted a more insulting response to last week's State of Indian Nations Address.

On Monday, President George W. Bush presented his budget for fiscal year 2009, which begins Oct. 1. In the final budget of his presidency, Bush proposed serious cuts in federal spending to many programs vital to Indian Country.

In his annual address last Thursday, President Joe Garcia of the National Congress of American Indians spoke about the need for economic development, health care reform, public safety funds and education reform for Indian Country.

So it came as a slap in the face when Bush's budget Monday proposed cuts to many Indian programs, including:

• The Bureau of Indian Affairs education construction fund, which would be slashed by $177 million less than Congress appropriated for it this year, if Bush has his way. His budget sets aside just $140 million for that fund.

• The Indian Health Service's Urban Indian Health Program, which serves Indians in South Dakota communities like Sioux Falls and Pierre, would not be funded, and likely be eliminated, under Bush's proposed budget. Congress set aside $35 million for the program this fiscal year.

• The Indian Health Facilities fund, which would see a $22 million decrease under Bush's proposed budget and receive just $362 million for the next fiscal year. That account supports construction, repair and improvement of Indian Health Services facilities.

• Three Department of Justice programs that service Indian Country, which would be zeroed out under Bush's plan. Those programs provide for incarceration on tribal lands, tribal courts and grants for tribes. Congress provided $33 million for the programs for the current fiscal year.

• Two U.S. Department of Education programs that provide financial support to tribal colleges, universities and technical institutes would see none of the more than $30 million that Congress appropriated to them this fiscal year under Bush's budget.

• The Native American Housing Block Grants program, which Congress funded for $681 million this fiscal year, would see $54 million less under the president's budget."

Get the Story:
Kevin Abourezk: Bush Seeks to Cut Vital Indian Programs (RezNet News 2/4)

FY2009 Budget:
Budget of the United States Government

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