Reagan Signs Temporary Budget Bill
Washington--After months of crises and uncertainty over the federal government's budget for fiscal 1982, President Reagan last week signed into law a bill that sets spending levels for most federal agencies--including the Education Department--through next March.
The bill, known as a "continuing resolution," provides $12.95 billion for education programs in the 1982 fiscal year, which began on Oct. 1--a 13-percent reduction from the fiscal 1981 level of $14.9 billion. The cuts in individual programs range from a 42-percent slash in impact aid to a 4-percent reduction in the new package of block grants to states. (See accompanying chart.)
Only one program, education for the handicapped, received slightly more money for fiscal 1982 than for last year. The bill provides $1.042 billion for the program in 1982, representing a 1.6-percent increase.
Because the resolution is temporary, however, the bill is said to represent only another step toward the enactment of a final 1982 education budget.
Congressional aides and Administration officials say they expect the President to propose further cuts in his annual State of the Union address next February.
At the same time, the President is scheduled to introduce his budget for fiscal 1983, which is also likely to contain more cuts for education programs. According to figures that have been disclosed recently, the Office of Management and Budget (omb) is seeking to reduce the Education Department's budget to $8.3 billion next year.
Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell appealed that reduction to President Reagan and his advisers last Wednesday. Sources said the officials agreed on an education budget of between $9 billion and $10 billion for fiscal 1983.
Two Packages to be Proposed
In addition, sources said, the officials agreed to propose two packages of block grants next year: one that would consolidate the various programs for handicapped children; and another that would consolidate vocational-education programs.
Although the continuing resolution contains just one-fourth of the total of $16 billion in cuts that the Administration had sought, the measure is said to represent a victory for the President.
The resolution that Mr. Reagan signed last Tuesday, H.J. Res. 370, was a Republican substitute for the original funding bill prepared by the Democrat-controlled House Appropriations Committee and vetoed earlier by Mr. Reagan.
The original bill, H.J. Res. 357, had passed the House last month with the help of a group of moderate Republicans, known as the "gypsy moths," whose support is necessary for passage of most Democratic proposals.
Because the President's refusal to sign that bill prompted a day-long shutdown of most federal agencies, the moderate Republicans eventually turned against the Democrats and voted in favor of the second, Republican-prepared continuing resolution--which the President had promised to sign.
In introducing the second measure, Representative Silvio O. Conte, Republican of Massachusetts, the ranking minority member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, called the bill "the best possible political com-promise under current circumstances."
'Will and Determination'
"I fought like crazy with the Administration, the Office of Management and Budget, and the [Senate] to come up with the package.... We are dealing with a President and his advisers who have a sense of will and determination that this town has not seen since the early days of the Johnson Administration," he added.