February 01, 2010

Udall Calls President's Budget Proposal Good Start

Blueprint Protects Labs, Improves Military Bases and Boosts Veterans Services in NM

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Tom Udall, D-N.M., today expressed optimism for President Obama's budget proposal, saying the administration's recommendations are a good start for New Mexico and the nation.

"Our budget must work in a fiscally responsible manner to create jobs around the country and improve the lives of working families and my initial review of the president's proposal is positive," said Udall. "Our labs and bases are all well positioned for the future in this budget blueprint, which also contains an increase in resources to care for more veterans in the state."

The National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees both Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, would receive an almost 14 percent, or $1.3 billion, increase in funding compared with Fiscal Year 2010. The increase would include:

  • A $393 million budget increase for LANL, bringing the requested total for the lab to $2.217 billion. The request includes increases for programs to secure our nation's aging stockpile, for nuclear nonproliferation efforts and to increase readiness in technical bases and facilities;
  • A $364 million increase for SNL, bringing the requested total to $1.49 billion, with similar increases for directed stockpile and nonproliferation work.

"The outlook looks bright for our labs and their continued roles in the implementation of the president's vision to secure and reduce nuclear weapons around the world," Udall said. "However, I am disappointed that the administration is again using the same failed justification to zero out funding for LANSCE in Los Alamos and I intend to fight this proposal as we successfully did last year."

The president's budget includes a request for approximately $284.4 million for New Mexico's military installations. That includes a proposed:

  • $150.2 million to Cannon Air Force Base, including $14 million for a new 96-room dormitory and more than $39.6 million for a new Special Operations Forces Operations and Training Complex;
  • Nearly $38 million to Holloman Air Force Base for maintenance facilities;
  • $24.4 million to Kirtland Air Force Base for new and existing facilities;
  • Almost $52 million for White Sands Missile Range, including $29 million for base barracks and $22.9 million for TRICARE Health and Dental Clinics;
  • $8.5 million for the Army National Guard Readiness Center in Farmington; and
  • $11.4 million for the Army Reserves in Las Cruces.

The Department of Veterans Affairs in New Mexico would also see its budget raised to $1.2 billion in fiscal year 2011, up from $927 million last year.

Said Udall, "I fully support the president's requested increase in funding for Veterans Affairs in New Mexico. With a proud tradition of military service in our state and more veterans returning from battle in Iraq and Afghanistan with serious physical and mental injuries, we need the resources to take care of them."

Under the budget blueprint, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) would also see a $14 billion increase, bringing its total budget to almost $150 billion. The added funding would help meet demands in programs like the Special Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which are seeing record high participation.

"We have a moral obligation to help feed the increasing number of children with out-of-work parents who can't afford food," said Udall. "Too many families are facing difficult choices in these tough economic times - making sure their children can eat lunch at school should not be one of them."

Udall will also work to ensure adequate funding for the Ute Pipeline project in Eastern New Mexico, which has been zeroed out, and the Animas-La Plata Project in northwest New Mexico, which is down $37 million to $12.4 million in requested funding.

"While I'm pleased to see strong support for the Navajo Gallup Water Supply and the Middle Rio Grande Projects, the Ute Pipeline and Animas-La Plata Projects are woefully underfunded," Udall said. "You can bet I'll be working to make sure that the Senate's budget allows these important projects to progress."

Udall, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, also highlighted the $4 million increased request for the Indian Health Services (IHS) to $4.4 billion. The total IHS budget request also includes a $7 million increase for preventive health efforts.

"Native Americans are facing epidemic rates of Diabetes and teen suicide," Udall said. "By providing the IHS with better resources to help prevent the mental and physical health issues plaguing their people, the president is making good on his promise to begin improving conditions in Indian Country."