Security of Cities Threatened by Military Spending
By Burlington, Vermont Mayor Peter ClavelleApril 21, 1997
Imagine if cities were to receive more money for our needs than mayors and urban leaders had asked for. No, it's not likely to happen. Yet, for the Fiscal Year 1997 Budget, the military receive $11.4 billion more than the Pentagon requested. This has occurred while budgets for affordable housing, children's nutrition, and education have been slashed.
Just this month the Pentagon unveiled its newest aircraft, the F22. It has been estimated that, when research, development, and production costs are figured in, the unit cost for this plane will be about $160 million. We should note that this project was conceived more than a decade ago in response to Soviet plans for a 21st-century warplane, plans for which have since been scrapped or dramatically downsized. Total cost for the F22 project will likely exceed $70 billion. Compare this to HUD's FY96 budget of $19.4 billion.
Obviously, our priorities must change. The economic security and social well-being of our citizens stand at risk unless we challenge the status quo. A national group of corporate CEOs, working with retired military leaders, has created "Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities." This group is urging the President and Congress to redirect monies from excessive military spending to pressing domestic matters. I strongly suggest that the U.S. Conference of Mayors join in this effort.
Consider the following:
Obviously mayors need to be engaged in the debate over reinvesting dollars that now flow to the military. Military spending has clearly become a local issue. No one is in a better position than the mayors of our cities to advocate for a transfer of funds from the Pentagon to programs that provide affordable housing for our citizens, protect our environment, and sustain the health, education, and safety of our communities.
I will join Mayors Willie Brown of San Francisco, Thomas Menino of Boston, Michael Peters of Hartford, Kurt Schmoke of Baltimore, and William Ward of Chesapeake in bringing forth a resolution at our Annual Meeting to urge new budget priorities. Please join us.
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