Stimulus Package Put Off Until After Action on Budget
WASHINGTON--A House subcommittee last week endorsed the part of President Clinton's economic-stimulus package that provides an $8.8 billion infusion into several social-service programs, including those assisting children, youths, and college students.
But the House leadership decided to delay final action on the plan--which had been set for this week--until after the House passes a budget resolution outlining the spending cuts proposed by the President.
Under law, Congress must pass the fiscal 1994 resolution--which provides a blueprint for Congressional appropriators, but which is not binding--by April 15.
But House leaders asked the Budget Committee to complete the task by mid-March in an effort to make good on Mr. Clinton's commitment to make spending cuts at the same time Congress approves additional funding in the supplemental package.
Rep. Martin Olav Sabo, D-Minn., who chairs the Budget Committee, said he hopes to begin marking up the resolution on March 10.
The delay in approving the supplemental bill for the current fiscal year could stall programs slated to begin this summer.
Among other programs, President Clinton proposed that the package include $1 billion for summer youth-employment programs; $500 million for summer Head Start programs; and $500 million for summer Chapter 1 programs.
At last week's hearing before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, Education Secretary Richard W. Riley and Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich emphasized the importance of passing the $16.3 billion package by April 1.
"If we can get this going early enough, we can be assured that this money will be spent, and be spent well,'' Mr. Reich said. His remarks came only hours before the House leadership announced its decision to delay the measure.
The summer-jobs program, Mr. Reich said, would be geared toward economically disadvantaged youths ages 14 to 21 who would work at public and nonprofit organizations. About 700,000 jobs are expected to be created, doubling the program's size from last summer.
Among other new elements, the program, which would make use of public school educators and buildings, includes academic-enrichment activities, basic-skills training, and testing and counseling.
About $250 million would be distributed across roughly 640 summer-jobs programs, and about $300 million would be set aside for academic-enrichment activities in all programs. The rest would be concentrated on the 100 most needy cities and rural areas, Mr. Reich said.
Passing the spending bill by April 1 would give local governments six weeks to plan, he said.
Chapter 1 Funds
Mr. Riley said quick passage of the bill is also critical to the new Chapter 1 summer program. That program, he said, "can greatly extend instructional time and provide intensive services without disrupting programs.''
As many as 83,000 teachers, classroom aides, and other staff members could obtain summer employment under the proposal, Mr. Riley said.
Mr. Clinton's package also includes $235 million for Chapter 1 programs hurt by the use of 1990 census data.
If the supplemental funding is not approved, Mr. Riley said, up to 6,000 school personnel could lose their jobs this fall.
The funding under this portion of the stimulus package would be sent to states based on the amount needed to bring them up to 92 percent of their fiscal 1992 grant allocations. The department would require states to distribute the money only to districts that fell below 92 percent of their fiscal 1992 levels.
Mr. Riley said it is also important that the package include a little more than $2 billion to cover current and previous Pell Grant shortfalls.
By doing so, the department could issue a payment schedule and give families and students an idea of how much grant aid would be available in the 1994-95 academic year.
In a separate appearance before the panel, Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala said the supplemental spending for Head Start would provide 50,000 jobs, most of which would go to parents of participating youngsters.
Vol. 12, Issue 23, Page 27