Federal News Roundup
The House last week approved an overall budget plan for fiscal 1985 that, according to lobbyists, "tacitly" assumes a maximum spending limit of $17 billion for the U.S. Education Department.
The bill, commonly referred to as the first budget resolution, would provide $29.95 billion in budget authority for the category within the budget that includes education, training, employment, and social-service programs.
Although the report accompanying the bill, H Res 282, does not break down the $29.95-billion figure into budget subfunctions, the lobbyist said they have been told that it was arrived at by assuming $17 billion in spending for education programs.
Action on the Senate version of the budget resolution, meanwhile, remained stalled for a second week as senior Republicans in that chamber continued searching for a way to bring it directly to the floor.
The Republican leaders had hoped to act swiftly on the fiscal 1985 budget plan by attaching it as an amendment to a fiscal 1984 budget reconciliation bill left over from last year. That approach has been blocked by a group of Senate Democrats.
The Agriculture Department has proposed a rule that would halve the number of applications for free or reduced-price school lunches that districts must verify.
Currently, school officials must verify the income levels and eligibility of 3,000 or 3 percent of the applications, whichever is fewer. Under the proposed rule, the number would drop to 1.5 percent or 1,500 applications, whichever is fewer.
Department officials proposed the change after analyzing the results of preliminary verification studies conducted in 114 districts during the 1982-83 school year. Those results showed that applications listing income within $1,200 of the eligibility ceiling are the most likely to be inaccurate. Hence, department officials say, schools can verify fewer applications, but focus the procedure on those who are statistically likely to misreport their income.
The proposed rule would also require families to report the amount and source of income for all adult members. Current rules require only an overall income figure. The preliminary tests showed that this requirement significantly reduced misreporting of income.
Other changes include a requirement that schools notify in writing those households selected for verification; that the schools complete the verification by Nov. 15 of each year; and that food-stamp recipients be allowed to list their case number instead of their income.
The rule is open for public comment until April 30. Comments should be sent to Stanley C. Garnett, branch chief, Policy and Program Development Branch, Child Nutrition Division, Food and Nutrition Service, usda, Alexandria, Va. 22302.