Thirty groups ranging from the United Methodist Church to the Food Bank of Iowa this week asked Congressman Jim Nussle to resist the budget cuts President Bush proposes in federal food and social service programs.
Nussle, who is chairman of the House Budget Committee, says Bush’s plan is only the starting point for budget negotiations. “What we do is we set the macro-level of funding for a number of different agencies and departments and this begins the process,” Nussle says. “The individual concerns over, for instance, special education — which has been one of mine, is something that happens more in the appropriations process probably more in the June area and not in my committee’s jurisdiction.”
A law passed in 1975 said the federal government would cover 40 percent of the cost of instructing every special education student, but that promise has never been kept and President Bush’s budget recommendation is to provide less than half that amount. The Iowa Human Needs Advocates also raise concerns about federal spending on nutrition programs for poor elderly Americans as well as the level of spending on the Low Income Heat and Energy Assistance program.
Nussle, a Republican, has called budgeting a balancing act in the wake of the 9/11 attack and in the midst of the war effort. “But I will, as we did last year…try to make sure Iowa’s needs and Iowa’s citizens needs are taken care of as part of this budget,” Nussle says. Nussle will not seek reelection to congress; he is running for governor.