Campbell stresses cost of home defense

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When U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., visited Craig Tuesday night, he offered residents a chance to discuss subjects important to them.

For Archie Neil, the director of the special education department for Moffat County High School, that subject is funding for special education.

"My passion is the special ed kids," Neil said. "The funding for (Individuals with Disabilities Act) hasn't been allocated. Ever since it was passed in 1975, and then reallocated in '97, we haven't gotten the money. The federal government is mandated to fund 40 percent of IDEA's programs but to my knowledge they've never come through with more than 20 percent that leaves the local district to come up with the money to help these kids. That's the bottom line.

"I respect what (Sen. Campbell) has done, where he's been, and I understand the difficult situation he's in getting things passed. I'm here to ask him to remember a voice in the constituency, and him showing up today shows that he is willing to listen."

As part of his response to Neil's question about the possibility of the federal government properly funding IDEA, Campbell touched on the issues that influenced almost every answer Campbell gave: Fighting terrorism and paying for that struggle costs money and other programs might not get the funding they need.

"(The federal government) is not going to have as much money as we did the last three or four years because of the economy, and we're going to have to make a lot of tough choices," he said.

"People need to recognize the priorities. Number one, we have to make the darn country safe. Number two, we do everything else, everything else that we can do.

"The question of how to protect our citizens while not having an over intrusive government will be the most difficult thing we will face over the next several years. This is a kind of war we've never fought before."

More than 50 residents joined Neil in raising topics of concern to the senator during the town meeting Campbell hosted at Shadow Mountain Clubhouse Tuesday evening.

Residents asked questions concerning the significance of Russia recently producing more oil than Saudi Arabia, a national law covering concealed weapon permits, welfare reform, reform of the Internal Revenue Service and tax code, environmental terrorism and the possibility of oil shale again becoming a viable energy source.

Campbell also discussed the importance of passing a comprehensive energy bill.

That issue also has a national defense component in its effort to lessen the United States' dependence on foreign oil, Campbell said.

On the topic of wilderness designations, Campbell spoke of his effort, along with Rep. Scott McInnis, to pass a bill that would create a "patchwork" policy for designations instead of a blanket system for the whole country.

"I'm in support of local input on wilderness designations," Campbell said.

"Those whose lives are affected, the ones who live closest, ought to have the strongest voice not someone in New York.

"I don't support a broad, blanket approach to designations the process that's supposed to be for everyone and fits no one.

"In my bill, which Scott McInnis is working on in the House, the counties would first list what they do and do not want in their areas (for land designations), and have a strong voice in any process concerning those lands."

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