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Klobuchar joins Franken, McCollum in push to increase 'woefully inadequate' funding for Indian schools

WASHINGTON — Amy Klobuchar is now the third Minnesotan to formally request a massive bump in Indian schools construction funding, signing her name to a letter that asks for funding to "seriously address" the "woefully inadequate" funding levels that have left one third of these federally-managed schools in poor condition.

At current funding levels, it would take an estimated 30 years to bring the schools already in poor condition up to acceptable standards, and that's assuming nothing goes wrong in any other school over the next three decades.

The letter urges the Senate Budget Committee to agree to a request by Al Franken that would bump funding from the president's request of $52.9 million up to $293 million, the funding levels in 2003. Rep. Betty McCollum has also asked for a large increase, hers would run the total to $263 million, the 2005 funding level.

In addition to Franken and Klobuchar, the letter was signed by Indian Affairs Chairman Byron Dorgan and four other Democratic senators.

The list of schools in poor physical condition includes Bug-O-Nay-Ge Shig in Bena, while Circle of Life in White Earth was rated in even worse condition — listed back in 2004 as among the 14 schools most in need of having facilities replaced. However, federal officials have guaranteed that, after years of delays, construction on Circle of Life is expected to begin later this year and finish in 2012.

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