by Congressman Michael Turner (OH-03)
Recently, President Bush submitted the Fiscal Year 2009 Budget to Congress for consideration. This budget, the final one President Bush will deliver, provides direction for over three trillion dollars in federal spending. It covers virtually every aspect of the federal government. The Third District of Ohio has a very diverse and varied constituency with concerns ranging from agriculture to Veterans’ Affairs.
Caring for our nation’s veterans must continue to be among our very highest priorities. As our young men and women come back from serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is crucial that the Department of Veterans’ Affairs focus on their needs. The injuries our soldiers suffer in these conflicts in the War on Terror are of a different nature than we have seen in previous conflicts. As a result, the budget providing medical care to our nation’s veterans was increased by over 12%. In Ohio, more than one million veterans are eligible for service at medical centers in Dayton, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Chillicothe and at more than two dozen outpatient clinics statewide. I remain committed to ensuring that our region’s veterans receive the high quality health care that they deserve.
While our region is on the cutting edge of technology and development, it is important that we also focus on the importance of agriculture. Agriculture is one of the foundations of our regional and national economy. According to the most recent Census of Agriculture, there are over 77,000 farms in Ohio that produced four billion dollars in crops and livestock sales. This budget currently provides an increase of nearly one billion dollars in crop insurance and another several hundred million in funds for agricultural marketing services.
By far, the largest portion of the budget is for the Department of Defense. Over five hundred billion dollars are currently scheduled to go towards strengthening our nation’s armed forces. This includes $49 billion to strengthen our nation’s National Guard and Reserve Units and nearly $43 billion for the Defense Health Program to provide health care for our soldiers. Money is also set aside to provide a 3.4 percent pay raise for military personnel. We must continue to provide for our nation’s armed forces and give them the tools they need to finish their missions.
It is important to remember that the President’s submission of his budget is only the first step in this process. The budget will be used as a blueprint or starting point and is far from perfect. Now that the budget has been submitted, Congress will decide which portions to enact and which areas must change. While every proposal by the President will not be accepted by Congress, the administration has given us a starting point for our work over the next year.
As we work to decide where we will spend tax dollars, I recognize the importance of controlling federal spending without raising taxes. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress in advocating for the interests of our community.
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