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Education Funding Hike Seen at Risk in Senate Committee

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Washington--Education lobbyists expressed concern last week that some of the substantial funding increases given education by a Senate appropriations subcommittee could be in danger in the full committee.

Leaders of the Appropriations Committee agreed last week to put off action on the fiscal 1991 funding bill earlier approved by the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee.

The bill provides a 15.2 percent hike in spending for education, which some observers are speculating might be a tempting target for senators looking to add money for other programs.

One such issue, currently being negotiated by Senators Lloyd Bentsen of Texas and Tom Harkin of Iowa, concerns foster-care funding.

Mr. Bentsen, chairman of the Finance Committee, has asked Mr. Harkin, the chairman of the subcommittee that approved the bill, to reinstate $60 million for administration of the federal foster-care entitlement program, according to an aide to Mr. Bentsen.

Mr. Bentsen's committee has jurisdiction over the program and more than $400 million in social-service outlays, which an aide to Mr. Harkin said is also under discussion.

While it was not clear late last week what effect the negotiations between Mr. Bentsen and Mr. Harkin would have on education, other proposals with a potential impact on school programs also have surfaced.

Senator Brock Adams of Washington has been working on an amendment that would include $190 million for emergency aids care. To provide that money without increasing overall spending, appropriations for programs that were slated to receive funding increases of more than 4 percent above last year's levels would be reduced by 0.9 percent, according to an aide to Mr. Adams.

Lobbyists said the implications for education funding were not good. "It's unsettling that there are two problems of this magnitude," said Becky H. Timmons, director of Cononal liaison for the American Council on Education.

Meanwhile, Congressional and White House negotiators continued to seek a budget compromise before automatic spending cuts kick in next month.

If budget negotiators are unable to break their stalemate, across-the-board cuts of more than 40 percent will be mandated under the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit-reduction law. The cuts, including an $8.1-billion reduction in Education Department programs, are scheduled to go into effect Oct. 15.--mp

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