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Unveiling his $175 billion plan for funding U.S. highways over the next six years, President Clinton proposed Wednesday allowing states to start charging tolls on interstate highways and letting them use the revenue to improve their transportation systems. "States need a lot of resources - state, federal and other - to keep up with the aging of their transportation systems," Deputy Transportation Secretary Mortimer Downey said Wednesday. "This could be one more way to raise those dollars."
The Clinton administration's current budget proposal includes $224.8 billion in tax cuts through the year 2007, the Treasury Department said Wednesday. Previously, Treasury estimated the cost of Clinton's new tax proposals at $98.4 billion, but that was only through the year 2002.
President Clinton on Thursday outlined a five-year federal budget plan that, he said, would erase the deficit by 2002, cut taxes for families, curb Medicare growth and increase spending on education. The president maintained his blueprint, once fully in place, would set the nation on the path to a balanced budget for two decades. The nation last had a balanced budget in 1969.
Who would qualify for some of the proposed tax changes, and how, in President Clinton's budget: College tax credit: Families would get a $1,500 tax credit for each student in post-secondary education for one year. If at least a B average is maintained by the student and he or she is not convicted of a drug crime, the family would qualify for a $1,500 tax credit a second year. Families not earning enough to pay $1,500 in income tax would not get the full credit. Credit would be phased out for taxpayers filing a joint return with adjusted gross income between $80,000 and $100,000. Taxpayers with incomes over $100,000 would not quality at all.
The region's timber industry scoffed Thursday at the notion that it ought to pay for its own forest roads when logging public lands. The Clinton Administration believes it will save as much as $55 million in fiscal year 1998 by making timber companies pay to build their own logging roads in national forests.
President Clinton says he wants to tear down two dams on the Olympic Peninsula within five years, boost spending on mass transit and largely preserve Boeing's military and space programs in the midst of defense-budget cuts. Clinton also included money in his proposed 1998 budget for several building projects in Washington state, including $14 million to expand a U.S. Border Patrol station in Blaine and $17 million to buy land for a new federal courthouse in Seattle.
When it comes to putting a hand into the public money cookie jar, nobody has a bigger fist than Seattle. The big fist rummages hard and deep in the Washington Legislature each year to pull out sweet morsels for residents of King County. In 1988, the Legislature funded $200 million to build The Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle.
Commissioner Ron Rankin already has made an impact on the Kootenai County budget. In his first week in office, the tax activist decided the county wasn't going to pay $76 per day for him to stay several nights at the Red Lion Riverside during an Association of Counties meeting in Boise next month. So he made reservations at an economy motel that served him well before he became a political superstar - for $32.50 per day. His stand was infectious. County Clerk Dan English, who also had winced at the Red Lion room rate, followed by checking into an inexpensive motel across from the convention site. Now, Commissioner Dick Compton and English have made reservations at an econo-motel for a Boise trip later this month. And other county officials? I'm sure taxpayers would say: "Go, thou, and do likewise." Oh say can she sing
As the Northwest settles into the icy grip of winter, the big hydroelectric projects on the Columbia River are keeping up with the region's energy needs - barely. But in two or three years, generators strung like beads up and down the river system could grind to a halt because of poor maintenance.
With much of the nation beset by bone-chilling cold, nearly 150 House members urged President Clinton on Wednesday to expand a heating assistance program for the poor. The lawmakers, most of them from cold-weather states, said the $1 billion appropriated for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program in fiscal 1997 will not be enough given higher fuel costs. They asked Clinton to make an additional $420 million available through an emergency declaration.
Spokane County commissioners will take public comment today on a 1997 budget that calls for putting $2 million into an account reserved for emergencies, but still spends $266,000 so employees can be members of professional organizations. The county has a general fund budget of $88 million but less than $400,000 in its bank account. Commissioners wanted to set aside $1 million this year, but saw the amount dwindle as one department head after another made emergency requests.
The Washington state auditor says Spokane County should change the way it awards bids, deals with surplus equipment and collects money at cashiers windows. In a report issued this month, state Auditor Brian Sonntag said the county didn't keep close enough tabs on $24 million in purchases in 1995.
The Idaho Legislature is not covered by the governor's order to cut state spending by 2-1/2 percent to cover a projected budget shortfall, but legislative leaders say they will go along voluntarily. That means a $192,000 reduction in spending by the Legislature and the Legislative Services agency. The Legislature and its support services are operating under a $7.7 million budget this year.
When I was in New York a few years ago, before the city's voters elected a Republican mayor who got rid of the infamous "squeegee men," my taxi was approached while stopped at a light. Despite the driver's frantic attempts to wave him off, the squeegee man persisted in "cleaning" an already clean windshield. As the light turned green, the man stuck his hand in and demanded menacingly to be paid for his "services." Like tens of thousands of New Yorkers forced to endure similar experiences over the years, I couldn't help but be reminded of big government.
The ancient Greeks believed the greatest tragedies come when well-meaning, intelligent, caring humans cannot see the big picture or understand new circumstances. A chorus warns them of impending disaster, but they do not hear. American public policy is ignoring a chorus of commissions and experts warning that the baby boom is turning into the "grandparents boom" with grave implications for America's future.
The Navy could save nearly $50 million over the next four years by ending $10,000 annual cash bonuses for specially trained officers on nuclear-powered submarines and ships, a congressional report said Friday. The bonuses began in the late 1960s to entice the nuclear-trained officers to stay in the service rather than pursue lucrative offers in a growing civilian nuclear power industry.
The Federal Reserve, renowned for its tightfisted control of the nation's money supply, is considerably more generous to its own staff: In just the last three years, it has more than doubled the number of executives who earn above $125,000 annually, a congressional study shows. The Fed's director of support services, for example, whose job is to oversee janitors and guards, earns more than the secretary of defense, for instance, according to a study by the House Banking Committee released Wednesday.
The bill includes hiring a worker to cut grass so another one could dig a bombdetonation trench. It includes installing a backup generator at the Coast Guard station at East Moriches so dozens of agencies could set up camp in temporary trailers. And it includes up to $95,000 a day for the Navy's efforts to bring the shattered pieces of a jetliner from an underwater grave. This week, the National Transportation Safety Board is asking Congress for $7 million to cover the cost of the TWA Flight 800 investigation - but that doesn't even begin to cover the costs of the unprecedented probe incurred by state, local and other federal authorities. Although the total amount changes daily, estimates from public officials put the tally at about $17 million spent so far.
President Clinton on Monday proposed $1.1 billion in new spending to tighten airline security and fight global terrorism. The request to Congress ties together a number of long-standing anti-terror initiatives and a list of recommendations from a new commission, formed in the aftermath of the July 17 explosion of TWA Flight 800, to find ways to make air travel safer.