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Panel Approves $21.2 Billion for E.D.

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Washington--A Senate appropriations subcommittee last week approved a higher than expected $21.2-billion Education Department budget for fiscal 1988.

That figure is $7.2 billion more than the Administration requested, $1.8 billion more than the department's fiscal 1987 budget, and $600- million more than called for in the appropriations bill passed by the House in August.

The as yet unnumbered bill, which the full Appropriations Committee is expected to take up this week, would offer more funding for special education, vocational education, and student financial aid than HR 3058, but slightly less for the Chapter 1 compensatory-education program and much less for impact aid.

The Senate bill's higher total is deceiving, however. It includes $67-4million for still unauthorized education programs included in the omnibus trade bill that is currently in conference, while the House panel decided to address those issues later.

In addition, the Senate's higher figure for student aid--$542 million above the House total--is driven mainly by higher, more current estimates of necessary funding for the Guaranteed Student Loan entitlement program.

If these discrepancies are considered, the two bottom lines are not significantly different. But the outcome can still be viewed as a victory for education interests, as it came at the expense of other social programs.

The full Senate Appropriations Committee allocated $290 million less to its Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee than called for in the House-Senate budget resolution, and the complete Labor-hhs-ed bill con8tains about $480 million less than its House counterpart when the figures are corrected for the inclusion of still unauthorized programs.

"We're very pleased with it," said Susan Frost, executive director of the Committee for Education Funding. "We're very supportive of the marks as they stand, though there are small problems with some programs falling below '87 levels," she said, citing impact aid, compensatory higher-education programs, and a small library program.

The subcommittee made no major changes to the education provisions of the bill at its Sept. 18 session. But Senator Lowell P. Weicker Jr., Republican of Connecticut, proposed shifting $120 million from nine education accounts to the National Institutes of Health, a plan that may be raised again.

The panel's chairman, Senator Lawton M. Chiles, Democrat of Florida, agreed to discuss the issue further and possibly amend the bill before it reaches the full committee.

The areas targeted for cuts include science and mathematics programs funded under the Education for Economic Security Act, the dropout and adult-literacy components of the trade bill, two higher-education programs, and the Education Department's research budget.

Offering caustic comments on Secretary of Education William J. Bennett's recent trip to Nicaragua and other forays into non-educational controversies, such as the debate over acquired immune deficiency4syndrome, Senator Weicker also proposed taking $22.6 million from the Secretary's travel budget.

"Having been through Secretary Bennett's role as Surgeon General, now apparently he's Secretary of State," Senator Weicker said.

The Senate bill, like its House counterpart, soundly repudiated the Administration's call for spending cuts.

Both bills agree with requested funding levels for Chapter 2 block grants ($500 million) and assistance to magnet schools ($75 million). The Senate bill also adopts the requested funding level of $70.2 million for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, which the House8would fund at $73.8 million. But in every other instance, both proposals offer more education funding than the Administration recommended.

Only two programs were earmarked for cuts by either committee. The House bill would cut the eesa science and mathematics program from $80 million to $55- million, while the Senate would fund it at $155 million. The Senate bill calls for a $16-million cut in impact aid, which the House would increase from $717.5 million to $757.5 million.

Senator Chiles said the impact-aid cut was proposed because "this bill was under pressure." He noted that the funding would be takenfrom school districts that receive less than $30,000 to compensate them for the presence of federal property or workers.

Other key differences between the House and Senate measures include:

Chapter 1. Both bills would increase funding for the huge compensatory-education program, but the House bill would provide $11 million more.

Programs for the handicapped. The Senate bill includes nearly $2 billion for these programs, $53.2 million more than HR 3058.

At the subcommittee session, Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, added $16 million to the proposedappropriation for the new preschool incentive-grant program created by the 1986 Education of the Handicapped Act amendments. He argued that the legislation promised $216- million in federal funds if all states agreed to participate, and they have done so.

To keep the change from raising the spending bill's 1988 totals, Senator Harkin's plan would also alter the funding cycle for the new early-intervention program for infants and toddlers. The program would be forward-funded, as many education programs are, meaning that funds would be available next July 1 rather than at the start of the new fiscal year this October.

Drug-abuse prevention. The Senate bill would earmark $250- million for programs funded under the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act, while the House measure would level-fund the program at $200 million.

Higher education. For postsecondary-education programs other than student aid, the Senate bill includes $507 million, $77 million less than the House bill, which itself represents a $104-million increase.

Vocational education. The Senate proposed $942 million for vocational-education programs, while the House bill includes $900 million. Both plans represent a small increase for the programs, which the Administration proposed eliminating.

Library services. Another program the Administration requested no funding for, library services would be allotted $136.6 million by the Senate and $8 million more by the House.

Special institutions. For "special institutions" such as Gallaudet University for the deaf and Howard University, the House bill includes $284.3 million and the Senate measure $276.7 million.

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