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Budget Panel Calls for $2-Billion Hike in Education Spending

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The Senate Budget Committee late last week was considering its resolution for the next fiscal year. It was unclear whether the committee would complete markup of its spending plan by the end of the week.

The Senate Labor and Human Re0 sources Committee has recommended to its Budget Committee colleagues that Education Department funding be increased by $2.53 billion and that spending on Head Start be increased by $1 billion.

Once the full House and Senate vote on their respective budget resolutions, a compromise hammered out by a conference committee becomes the blueprint for appropriations bills. While the budget panels recommend spending levels for certain programs, the specific decisions are made by the appropriators.

Advocates Disappointed

Representative Leon E. Panetta, Democrat of California and chairman of the House Budget Committee, said the committee's resolution, which was approved by a voice vote, would provide for "substantial increases" for student financial aid, mathematics and science programs, Chapter 1 compensatory education, special education, vocational and adult education, the trio program, historically black colleges, and educational assistance for homeless children.

The boost for Head Start, he said, would finance the extension of services to more than 72,000 additional children than were aided last year, and would set the program on a path to full funding by the year 2000.

The President's proposed $29.6- billion education budget calls for an increase in domestic discretion ary spending of $775 million, with $690 million going to his new education initiatives.

Lobbyists for education groups were disappointed with the House committee's recommendation.

"Given the aggressiveness that we can expect from the President and the [Education Secretary Lamar] Alexander administration on education," said Edward R. Kealy, director of fed eral relations for the National School Boards Association and the current president of the Committee for Education Funding, "I think that Congress has kind of missed an opportunity, particularly Panetta and the Democrats, to say that they are also making education a priority."

Mr. Kealy said the cef, an umbrella group that lobbies on behalf of education organizations, would continue to push for greater funding as the Senate takes up its resolution and the House resolution passes through the Congress.

He and other education advocates were hoping that the Budget Com mittee's mark would come closer to the $3.1-billion increase proposed by Representative William D. Ford Democrat of Michigan and chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee.

Mr. Ford's "homefront budget ini tiative," as he calls it, includes a pro posed $4.4 billion in spending increases, $3.1 billion of which would go to Education Department programs. The initiative comprises a $1.1-billion boost in such student- aid programs as Pell Grants and trio; an $800-million increase for employment- and competitiveness- related programs; and a $2.5-billion hike for such programs as Head Start, Even Start, and Chapter 1.0

After the Budget Committee's vote, Mr. Ford said through a spokesman: "Nothing is solid. I'm still negotiating."

Senate Action Expected

In the Senate, meanwhile, Senator Tim Wirth, Democrat of Colorado, is pushing a plan that calls for a $4.4- billion increase in education-related programs, including a $1.1-billion in crease in student aid, a $600-million boost in employment- and competi tiveness-related programs, a $2-billion increase for programs targeting the disadvantaged, and a $700-million increase for health and social-ser vices programs for children.

The appropriations panels are not likely to mark up appropriations bills until next month and June. An aide to Representative William H. Natcher, Democrat of Kentucky and chairman of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, said the Budget Committee set priorities a little differently than the subcommittee would have.

"It's not as much as Mr. Natcher said he could spend," the aide said, "but on the other hand, except for last year, it's the largest increase we've seen in education."

The Budget Committee passed the resolution without incident after rejecting several Republican propos als, including one that was identical to the President's budget. Democrats have tried to make an issue of the President's domestic agenda, which they view as a weak ness, and they pointed to the social- services spending increases in their budget resolution--which came at the expense of proposed increases in administrative costs and the space program--as a clear break with the President's budget.

Republicans said the differences were little more than tinkering.

Representative Willis D. Graison of Ohio, the panel's ranking Republican, said the increase for education programs was minor.

"Big deal," he said. "The right direction? Sure, but come on."

Mr. Panetta responded, "I would like you to ask a child if it makes a difference whether we put $2 billion into education in terms of an increase or whether we put in $700 million.''

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