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House Allows $22 Billion for E.D.

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WASHINGTON--The House last week approved a $1.1-trillion budget resolution for 1989 that would provide selected education programs with funding increases above the rate of inflation.

Overall, the bipartisan plan calls for some $22 billion in Education Department funding for the next fiscal year. It exceeds the $21.2 billion requested by the Reagan Administration.

The department's current appropriation is $20.3 billion.

Under the spending blueprint, adopted without dissent a week earlier by the House Budget Committee, all education programs would receive increases at least equaling the rate of inflation, a committee aide said.

On top of that boost, the aide said, more than $700 million in additional funds are targeted for such programs as Chapter 1 compensatory education and Pell Grants for low-income college students.

The full House approved the plan on a 319-to-102 vote.

"Given the budget contraints overall, the levels really reflect the prioritizing of education programs,'' said Susan Frost, executive director of the Committee for Education Funding, a coalition of education lobbyists.

"Getting inflation plus targeted increases is a very positive first step,'' she said.

The Congress is operating in this budget cycle under a deficit-reduction agreement with the White House--drawn up in December--that limits overall spending in nondefense, discretionary programs to a 2 percent increase for 1989.

But education programs are slated for a much higher increase, according to a committee aide. The House plan would provide an overall increase of about 8 percent for the Education Department and education-related programs under separate budgets, such as Head Start and the Smithsonian Institution.

After accounting for an estimated inflation rate of 4 percent, the resolution would provide additional hikes above the 1988 funding level for the following programs:

  • Chapter 1, $210 million;
  • Pell Grants, $175 million;
  • Special education, $170 million;
  • TRIO programs for disadvantaged students, $42 million;
  • Dropout prevention, $35 million;
  • Magnet-schools assistance, $35 million; and
  • Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, $5 million.

Competing for Funds

Total funding for the Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services departments--called the Function 500 category--would be $37.6 billion under the plan.

The budget process in the House moves this week to the Appropriations subcommittees. Those panels have the freedom to reallocate funds within the Function 500 category and among all domestic agencies as long as they adhere to the overall spending levels.

Education programs "are, in effect, competing with all other agencies and programs, including homeless assistance, welfare, and housing,'' Representative Augustus F. Hawkins, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, said last week.

"Because of that, we are limited,'' said Mr. Hawkins, a Democrat from California. He spoke at a news conference called by the C.E.F. to examine the impact of the President's proposed budget.

Another speaker, Mary Hatwood Futrell, president of the National Education Association, said that the House resolution provides a solid base for maintaining federal education programs.

But she added that federal funding for education has shown little growth during the Reagan years.

"For the past seven years,'' she said, "federal education programs have been like Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland: running as fast as they can just to stand still.''

The Senate Budget Committee is expected to reach an agreement on its budget resolution this week.

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