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KIC Responds to BIA Budget Cuts

 

March 27, 2004
Saturday - 2:25 am


Quoting a news release, Ketchikan Indian Community officials were shocked when plans were announced recently to slash the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) budget by nearly 6 percent in the next two years.

At a meeting with tribal leaders near Washington, D.C., new Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Dave Anderson announced a cut of 2.4 percent, or $55.3 million, in fiscal year 2006.


"We're going to advocate for full funding of every program that KIC operates, so that kids can go to school and families can keep a roof over their heads."...
KIC Tribal Council President Stephanie Rainwater-Sande


Once inflation and salary increases are taken into account, a BIA budget aide said the impact would actually be 3.6 percent, or nearly $80 million.

The proposal comes on top of a 2.3 percent reduction the agency that serves more than 560 tribes and more than 1 million American Indian and Alaska Natives is taking in fiscal year 2005. Dozens of programs, from education to law enforcement to Indian child welfare, are being flat-lined, reduced or outright eliminated by the Bush administration.

KIC Tribal Council President Stephanie Rainwater-Sande expressed frustration at the proposed cuts, stating: "KIC's use of these vital program funds has been extremely effective in addressing the basic need of our membership. I'm appalled at the thought of taking steps backward in the areas of housing, higher education, welfare assistance, and cultural programs."

Anderson's announcement was accompanied by a memo from Lynn Scarlett, the assistant secretary for policy, management and budget at the Department of Interior. On March 12, she informed top officials that the department will take a $259 million cut in 2006.

"Budgeting within these constrained funding levels will be even more challenging than in 2005," she wrote.

While the memo outlined dramatic cuts to every single Interior agency, bureau and office, the BIA would absorb 22 percent of the overall cut at the department.

The National Park Service is the only other agency that would shoulder such a heavy burden.

In the meantime, national tribal leaders plan to draft a counter-proposal to present before Anderson's response is due in May. The tribal advisory council will be meeting next month to formulate the substance of the proposal. Alaska Self-Governance committee representative Robert Keith of Nome will be joined in this effort by Stephanie Rainwater-Sande and David Jensen, both of Ketchikan Indian Community.

"$80 million in cuts nationwide is not acceptable. In Ketchikan, we can't afford to lose a single dollar." President Rainwater-Sande emphasized. "We're going to advocate for full funding of every program that KIC operates, so that kids can go to school and families can keep a roof over their heads."



Source of News Release:

Ketchikan Indian Community
Web Site

 

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