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E.D. Budget Cut Anticipated

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Washington--In a vacuum of hard information, education lobbyists here are circulating reports that the Reagan Administration will propose a fiscal 1987 budget for the Education Department of about $15n.

"I have heard whispers, and what I have heard is $15.2 billion," said Bruce Hunter, director of federal-state relations for the Council of Chief State School Officers. Susan Frost, executive director of the Committee for Education Funding, quoted a total of about $15 billion.

The last time the department's final budget was this low was fiscal year 1984.

While the lobbyists caution that the reported total is "soft," it appears to coincide with recent comments from senior department officials that their 1987 budget will include many of last year's proposed reductions, in addition to a sharp cut in vocational-education funds. The fiscal 1986 proposal was $15.5 billion. The final appropriation is about $18.5 billion.

Loye W. Miller, spokesman for4Secretary of Education William J. Bennett, declined to comment on the budget rumors. President Reagan is expected to send the spending blueprint to Capitol Hill Feb. 3.

Despite the pressure of new budget-balancing legislation--the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings bill--Mr. Hunter predicted that the Congress would reject the Administration proposal and use as its starting point in budget discussions the department's current appropriation.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported last week that the Office of Management and Budget is studying a plan to sell Education Department loans to private investors--specifically, part of its portfolio of National Direct Student Loans and college-housing loans.

"The government and the Administration, from time to time, look at things the government should not own or need not own, and study what it should divest itself of," commented Bruce M. Carnes, the department's deputy undersecretary for planning, budget, and evaluation.--jh

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