WASHINGTON, D.C. (KDKA) -- Fresh from a major address affirming the importance of public education, President Barack Obama told KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano he understood Pennsylvania's budget dilemma which has hurt local schools.
"Obviously, we're in tough budget times both at the federal level and the state level and I recognize there are difficult decisions to make," he said. "I really think it's important for us to make sure that when we cut, we don't cut education."
Of course, the end of the federal stimulus monies means Pennsylvania is short of cash, but the president had advice for state lawmakers.
"I would urge all those in positions of leadership to preserve our investment in education," Obama said. "Now, we have to spend that money wisely, and so part of my message yesterday, it was, 'Let's reform No Child Left Behind. Let's fix it to give states and local school districts more flexibility.'"
Obama says states need to follow his example.
"In my own budget for 2012, I'm cutting spending significantly," he said. "We're freezing federal spending so that we save $400 billion, but I'm still increasing funding for Pell Grants, still increasing funding for various programs that help recruit and train math and science teachers because that is going to be an investment that we make in the long term."
On the issue of nuclear plant safety in this country, the president tried to reassure.
"I do think it's important for us to think through constantly how we can improve nuclear technologies to deal with additional safety concerns," Obama said.
Delano: "Are we earthquake-proof?"
Obama: "We constantly monitor – I asked this question of our nuclear regulatory commission. We constantly monitor seismic activity."
Delano: "Are you at all worried about radiation from Japan reaching American shores?"
Obama: "No. I've been assured that any nuclear release dissipates by the time it gets even to Hawaii, much less to the main land of the United States."
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