Posted: Feb. 25, 2003


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Representing Republicans in the House of Representatives at the annual National Governors Association winter meeting, Delaware Congressman Mike Castle today addressed the budget shortfalls states are facing and urged each governor to appeal directly to those who will listen:  their state congressional delegation.

"Your best advocates for help in addressing your fiscal crunch are you own senators and House members.  You better believe that when my governor calls me up, I listen.  We can help with critical resources for education and homeland security, but we need to know and understand the challenges you are facing either with flexibility or accessing the funds," Castle said after being introduced by Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner. 

Castle, who was a governor himself from 1985 to 1993, also touched on programs the federal government has a responsibility in helping to fund, including IDEA, Medicaid and Head Start. 

IDEA: Castle predicted that as he leads the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) this year, that the federal share of funding will continue to increase.  According to law, the federal government must pay up to 40 percent. Castle noted that funding has been increasing over the years and as of Fiscal Year 2003, the federal government pays 18.3 percent, up from 7.3 percent in 1996.  Castle said he predicts a glide path towards "full funding" over the next 10 years.

Medicaid: Castle noted the concerns the governors have over the increasing pressures facing Medicaid, including an increasing number of recipients and increasing health care costs.  He noted that Medicaid is "as difficult an issue to deal with legislatively as any in the government," but that all sides agree reform is needed.  Castle urged states to look to their community health centers for providing health care for the unemployed and the underemployed.

Head Start: Castle will also lead the reauthorization of Head Start this year and noted that his primary goal is to increase children's school readiness and that a number of issues will be considered, including a pilot program enabling more flexibility in return for accountability.

In closing, Castle touched on the issues that are tops on the minds of all Americans.  "The two critical questions every American is asking are 'Am I going to have a job?' and 'Are we going to go to war?'  These are the issues we will be dealing with in the next few weeks as the United Nations votes on the second resolution concerning the disarmament of Iraq."

Also participating were: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican; Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat and chairman of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee; and House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat.