Clinton Seeking 5.6% Increase for E.D.'s Programs
By Mark Pitsch and Julie A. Miller
WASHINGTON--The Clinton Administration last week sent Congress a $1.5 trillion fiscal 1994 budget that includes a hefty increase for Head Start and a 5.6 percent increase for discretionary Education Department programs.
But that proposed increase is actually smaller than the one proposed by President Bush for fiscal 1993, and about half of it is slated for new Clinton Administration initiatives.
Some existing programs--most notably education research and programs in early-childhood education--would receive significant boosts under the Clinton budget. Chapter 1 funding would rise from $6.7 billion to $7.1 billion.
But most programs--including bilingual, immigrant, gifted, and Indian education; magnet schools; and mathematics and science--would receive level funding or only small increases.
Meanwhile, 24 programs would be eliminated, and several others would be cut below 1993 levels. According to the department, 113 programs would receive less than the amount needed to keep pace with inflation.
Administration officials acknowledged the education community may be disappointed.
"We're working hard to balance the budget,'' Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley said last Thursday, noting, though, that the Administration plans to increase discretionary education spending by 25 percent, or $12.5 billion, over five years.
"This year is not a year when we think the proper thing to do to improve education is to pour money into old programs,'' he said, adding that the agency's priority is to "get a framework worked out,'' to "develop goals and standards,'' and to "work toward systemic reform.''
"If we can do that,'' Mr. Riley said, "I think we will have in place an education system the American people will insist be strongly supported.''
Over all, the budget for the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1 includes $30.7 billion for Education Department programs, a 1 percent increase over the $30.4 billion appropriated for fiscal 1993.
But, because it assumes that approximately $1.3 billion less will be needed for student loans--an entitlement program--than was required in 1993, that figure is misleading. (Less is needed this year, officials say, because of lower interest rates and changes in the law.)
Discretionary Education Department programs would get $24.5 billion, $1.3 billion more than this year.
President Bush proposed a $1.6 billion increase for the agency's discretionary programs in his 1993 budget, and there are marked similarities between the two spending plans.
The Bush Administration also favored most of the programs slated for increases this year--including Chapter 1, special education, and Pell Grants. Like its Republican predecessors, the Clinton Administration has reserved some of the largest increases in the Education Department for research, statistics, and assessment programs, which would grow from $151.8 million to $215.75 million.
Fiscal Deja Vu?
The list of programs to be cut is also made up primarily of familiar items, such as impact aid, campus-based student-aid programs, library programs, and such regional-interest programs as territorial assistance and aid to native Hawaiians.
Even Mr. Riley's emphasis on "investing in change'' is strongly reminiscent of the rhetoric used by his predecessor, Lamar Alexander, to explain his budget's emphasis on new initiatives. And some Clinton initiatives--those relating to a national standards and assessment system--were also supported by Mr. Bush.
"It's remarkably similar to the Bush budget ... both on the numbers and on the policies,'' a Democratic appropriations aide said. "The same kind of pain is in here, albeit not as overtly as in the Bush budget.''
In past years, Congress has refused to make many of the cuts Mr. Clinton is proposing anew, and it has been reluctant to provide much open-ended research funding.
The Clinton Administration has proposed increasing general research funding from $74 million to $91 million, with none of the increased funding earmarked. Officials have also requested that the Secretary's Fund for Innovation be increased $12 million to $40 million.
But the Democratic Congressional majority may treat Mr. Clinton's proposals--however similar--more kindly than Mr. Bush's.
"If I were running [programs to be cut], I'd consider them at high risk,'' the Congressional aide said. "Last year, it was the Democrats against the Republicans. This year, it's the Democrats and the Democrats.''
In addition, while the Bush Administration proposed $767 million for a voucher program and initiatives like "break the mold'' schools, the new programs proposed by Mr. Clinton may be more to lawmakers' liking.
The Clinton budget includes $420 million for programs in the proposed "goals 2000: educate America act,'' which would establish a federal role in developing national standards and assessments, a board to help develop a voluntary system of skills standards and certificates for various industries, and a grant program to support state and local reforms. (See story, page 20.)
The Education Department budget also includes $75 million for a "safe-schools program,'' which would aid districts coping with violent crime; $15 million to create model professional-development programs for teachers; and $15 million to aid in coordinating education programs with other social services.
Finally, the budget includes $270 million to begin creating a national school-to-work transition system for noncollege-bound youths, with the funds evenly divided between the Education and Labor Departments.
The Labor Department budget also includes a $163.2 million increase for the Jobs Corps, which provides literacy, math, and vocational training to disadvantaged youths, and a $375 million hike for summer youth-employment and -training programs.
More traditional job-training programs did not fare as well. The budget freezes funding for vocational education, including the primary state grant program, and eliminates bilingual vocational training and consumer and homemaking education.
The budget would also reduce funding for youth-training programs under the Job Training Partnership Act by $10 million. Secretary of Labor Robert B. Reich had hinted that the Administration would not put more money into either vocational or J.T.P.A. programs until their effectiveness is evaluated.
The budget also includes $389 million for the first year of a national-service program.
Preschool Programs Favored
Administration officials cited early-childhood programs as a particular priority last week, and the budget reflects that emphasis.
In the Education Department, spending on Even Start would increase from $89.1 million to $110 million, and spending on programs for disabled infants and preschoolers would go up from $539 million to $600 million.
In the Health and Human Services Department, the plan includes:
- A $1.4 billion increase for Head Start, to $4.2 billion. The plan directs that $194 million be used to improve existing programs by raising salaries, adding staff, and improving facilities.
Over the next four years, additional efforts will be made to make Head Start "significantly stronger,'' while expanding its size and making it a full-day, full-year program, Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna E. Shalala said.
The Administration proposes boosting Head Start by $14 billion over the next five years.
- A $100 million increase, to $840 million, for child immunizations, part of a long-range proposal to insure that all children are vaccinated.
- $60 million in fiscal 1994, with $1.7 billion planned over the next five years, for a new "capped entitlement'' program to fund family-support and-preservation services. The budget would also boost foster-care and adoption-assistance funding to nearly $3 billion, a $69 million increase.
- $933 million--an increase of $40 million--for the Child Care and Development Block Grant.
The Agriculture Department's Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children would receive a small increase, from $2.9 billion to $2.95 billion.
The budget also includes:
- A 24 percent increase for the National Center for Education Statistics, to $60 million.
- $65 million for the National Assessment for Educational Progress, up from $29.3 million, to allow NAEP to conduct state-by-state assessments in more subjects.
- $6.3 billion for Pell Grants, an increase of slightly more than $200 million. The maximum grant would remain at $2,300, and a record number of students, 4.7 million, would receive grants. But the average grant would drop from $1,452 to $1,324.
- $3.868 billion for student-loan programs, and $149.2 million to begin phasing in a new direct-loan program, in which the government, rather than banks, would make loans.
- $4.3 billion for the school-lunch program, up from $4.1 billion, and $979 million for school breakfasts, up from $890 million.
The impact-aid program is among the hardest-hit education programs under the Clinton budget, which reprises a perennial proposal to phase out payments for so-called "b'' students, whose parents live or work on federal property.
Overall funding would be reduced from $750 million in fiscal 1993 to $689 million for fiscal 1994.
An additional $237 million in cuts would come from consolidating campus-based student-aid programs, which would receive $2.2 billion. Mr. Clinton proposes that institutions be allowed to divide their allocations between work-study, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, and Perkins Loans. They would be required to spend at least 10 percent of their funds on work-study jobs that involve community service.
Another $389.5 million in savings would come from cuts in other programs, including the Chapter 2 block grant, which would drop from $458 million to $435 million, and library programs, which would be cut from $146.1 million to $114.7 million.
Senior Editor Lynn Olson, Assistant Editor Deborah L. Cohen, and Staff Writer Jessica Portner also contributed to this story.