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Lawmakers eye defense funding

Faced with a $1.6 billion budget deficit, Maryland lawmakers are asking their federal counterparts to cut the defense budget and spread the wealth.

The letter, to be released Monday and signed by Sen. Jamie Raskin and Del. Sheila E. Hixson, both Montgomery County Democrats, said defense spending $1 trillion over the next decade without endangering U.S. troops.

The letter will be sent to the state’s congressional delegation, and is backed by 40 state lawmakers.

“The economic downturn has drained our state and local treasuries to dangerously low levels and is inflicting immense suffering on our people,” Raskin and Hixson write. “In the context of this crisis, the current unprecedented level of military spending constitutes a shocking misallocation of national resources. We ask you as our colleagues and our leaders in Washington to press for a dramatic shift in federal budget priorities.”

They continue, writing that the state’s budget straits have hampered job creation by forcing the furloughs of public employees, eroded funding for crumbling infrastructure maintenance and replacement, strained social services and reduced funds available for education.

They ask for defense spending to be reduced by at least 25 percent over the next five years.

“Savings can be invested in the crying social needs of the nation,” the letter states.