WASHINGTON — Members of Congress voiced concerns Tuesday that funding for child care centers, barracks maintenance and other military base programs will be hurt by what they call inadequate money for construction and repair in the proposed 2006 defense budget.

During a House Armed Services subcommittee hearing, Rep. Joel Hefley, R-Colo., said he was “astounded” that Army officials haven’t maintained “the level necessary to keep child care centers open, dining halls serving chow, lights turned on and base employees reporting to work.”

Army operations funding will be underfunded by nearly $1 billion in the proposed 2006 budget, and other military services will see a $400 million drop in much-needed repair and construction funds, according to subcommittee members.

But defense officials said the funding levels are adequate, and the services are committed to maintaining current programs and providing quality housing to keep servicemembers’ morale up.

“Soldiers and their families deserve the same quality of life as the society they are pledged to defend,” said Geoffrey Prosch, deputy assistant secretary for Army installations and environment. “Our construction budget does have the resources for continued support of our mission.”

For the Army, the proposed budget includes $292 million for training-range repairs and upgrades, funding for construction of new barracks for about 5,200 soldiers and new housing for about 5,800 families, and increased money for readiness and reserve centers.

But the $3.3 billion allotment for Army military construction is only 70 percent of the anticipated need for operations support funding, well short of the Defense Department budgeting goal of 95 percent.

Joyce Raezer, director of government relations for the National Military Family Association, said her group has heard complaints from families about cutbacks in basic services, especially at Army posts.

“We’re already seeing pink slips handed out to some base employees, hours cut back at dining halls,” she said. “This is youth programs. This is fitness programs. We’re very concerned about the quality of life at these facilities.”

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