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House Panel Said To Call for E.D. Cuts

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Washington--A House Appropriations subcommittee reportedly decided during a closed session last July to earmark $14.5 billion for education programs in the fiscal year 1984, an $800-million decrease from current funding levels, according to a coalition of 80 education groups.

In an Aug. 11 letter to House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill Jr., Democrat of Massachusetts, the Committee for Education Funding noted that although the House panel's recommendations would reportedly increase funding for several programs, they "would cut or level-fund many other programs in dire need of restoration."

The education groups' release of the letter offered the first glimpse of the spending figures reportedly agreed to by members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education on July 14.

The subcommittee has kept its recommendations secret pending action on the annual Labor-hhs-ed spending bill by the full House Appropriations Committee. That body is expected to take up the measure after the Congress reconvenes on Sept. 12.

According to the education groups, the subcommittee has rec-ommended that the Congress boost spending for the Chapter 1 program for disadvantaged children by $273 million over its current $3.2-billion level, to $3.48 billion in fiscal 1984, which begins on Oct. 1.

The subcommittee reportedly is also seeking increases in aid for vocational education (from $721 million to $735 million), adult education (from $95 million to $100 million), Pell Grants, (from $2.4 billion to $2.5 billion), and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (from $355 million to $370 million).

In addition, the education groups said the House panel also agreed to earmark $100 million in fiscal 1984 to establish a successor to the Emergency School Aid Act of 1972. The program, which was incorporated into the Chapter 2 education block-grants program in 1981, provided grants to state and local education agencies to encourage voluntary school desegregation.

The subcommittee, however, has recommended cutbacks in aid for handicapped education (from $1.19 billion to $1.15 billion), Chapter 2 (from $479 million to $478 million), bilingual education (from $138 million to $135 million), the National Institute of Education (from $55 million to $48 million), and College Work Study (from $590 million to $550 million), according to the groups. The subcommittee reportedly has not reached an agreement on spending for impact aid, which is funded at $480 million in the current fiscal year.

The education groups noted in their letter to Representative O'Neill that the subcommittee is requesting a total of $14.5 billion for education activities in the upcoming fiscal year, or $1.6 billion less than the Congress approved for such programs when it passed its first concurrent budget resolution for fiscal 1984 in June. That measure, which did not need President Reagan's signature, set spending ceilings for all federal programs.

The groups urged the House Speaker to press for the adoption of an alternative spending plan that they had drafted, which would match the $16.1-billion figure set under the budget resolution.

"The reduction in federal education programs over the past three years has hurt," they said in their letter.

"The National Commission on Excellence in Education's Report ... has challenged the education community to better meet the educational needs of our children. We believe that ensuring these minimal funding levels for existing highly successful programs is the first step toward meeting that challenge."

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