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Education Spending Declined During 80's, Report Says

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Washington--Spending on education across all federal agencies declined during the 1980's after taking inflation into account, a report issued last week by the National Center for Education Statistics concludes.

The federal government spent an estimated $50.5 billion on education programs during fiscal year 1990, the report said. That amount is up 47 percent from fiscal year 1980.

When adjusted for inflation, however, the spending figure represents a 5 percent decline. Education Department programs were among the hardest-hit, the study found.

Adjusted for inflation, funding for the office of elementary and secondary education decreased by 15 percent, and spending on programs in the office of postsecondary education declined by 24 percent, between the years under study, the report said.

But the report said that the estimated $22.4 billion in outlays for all department programs for fiscal 1990 represented an increase of 71 percent over the amount 10 years earlier, and a 10 percent increase after adjusting for inflation.

Spending on other education programs throughout the federal government--including libraries, museums, cultural activities, and miscellaneous research--increased during the period by 46 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars, the report said. Research funding at colleges and universities increased by 44 percent, the report said.

The nces report is its fourth since 1984, and the third annual report in a row, to outline education spending across the federal government.

Nces officials say they plan to continue issuing the reports annually.

In addition to the Education Department, the report covered education programs run by all other government agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services (Head Start), the Department of Defense (the Overseas Dependents Schools program), and the Department of Labor (the Job Training Partnership Act).

In addition to spending included in the budget, the report also count8ed as federal spending on education the generation of outside spending through legislation, almost all of which comes from student-loan programs, and losses to federal tax revenue through such allowances as tax breaks for contributions to charitable educational institutions.

Including all three sources, the report said, federal education spending amounted to $61.8 billion for fiscal year 1990. That is an increase of $22.8 billion, or 58 percent, since fiscal year 1980, and, after inflation is factored in, it reflects a 2 percent increase in spending.

Among other findings:

The federal share of education spending on elementary, secondary, and postsecondary schools dropped from 14 percent in fiscal year 1980 to 11 percent in fiscal year 1990.

The greatest decline in education spending came between fiscal years 1980 and 1983, when direct federal spending on education dropped by 18 percent.

After 1983, direct federal spending on elementary and secondary programs increased by 16 percent, and other programs increased by 26 percent.

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