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FYI: President Bush's $2.2 trillion budget proposal, officially handed over to Congress yesterday, contained few surprises. The White House had already given an advance look at the details of its 1.3 percent hike for the Department of Housing and Urban Development late last month, when Secretary Mel Martinez announced the agency would get an extra $112 million for affordable housing construction grants and an added $200 billion for aiding first-time homebuyers. As expected, Bush's HUD budget contained a controversial proposal for converting the Section 8 voucher program to a block grant that states run themselves, even dubbing it “Housing Assistance for Needy Families.” And Bush offered no special aid for either the state or city budget crisis; both state and local pols have repeatedly said the feds will have to chip in to help close budget gaps they say 9/11 helped create. [2/3/03]

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