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Senate Panel Approves $29 Billion Budget for E.D.

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WASHINGTON--The Senate Appropriations Committee last week approved a $261 billion social-services spending bill for fiscal 1994 that would provide $28.8 billion for Education Department programs.

That represents a $768 million increase, or 2.7 percent, from fiscal 1993.

Under the Senate version of HR 2518, discretionary education programs would receive $24.2 billion, a $657.5 million increase.

The House passed its version of the bill in June, allocating $28.6 billion to Education Department programs. (See Education Week, July 14, 1993.)

HR 2518's spending totals represent a larger growth in program funding than is immediately apparent, as lawmakers intend to devote a smaller chunk of the budget to paying off shortfalls in the Pell Grant program than they did in 1993, freeing more money for program funding.

The House included $415 million for the shortfall in its bill, but after the House bill passed, a supplemental-spending measure increased 1993 shortfall funding to $671 million and the Education Department announced that the deficit was smaller than previously thought.

The Senate bill would devote $188 million to paying off the shortfall, which is now estimated at $1.22 billion. That leaves about $28.6 billion for program funding, up from about $28.3 billion in 1993.

However, neither the House nor Senate would increase education spending enough to keep pace with inflation. Both bills also fall short of President Clinton's budget, which requested $30.9 billion for the Education Department, $2 billion of which was slated for the Pell shortfall.

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who chairs the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee, described the panel's attempt to cope with tight spending caps as cramming a "size 12 foot in a size 10 shoe.''

"We just can't fund what everybody wants with these budget constraints,'' Mr. Harkin said.

Clinton Reform Proposals

The Administration's education-reform proposals fared slightly better in the Senate bill than in the House version, receiving a total of $248 million. That is about $550 million less than Mr. Clinton requested, but $81 million more than in the House bill.

The bill includes $116 million to implement the proposed "goals 2000: educate America act,'' which is poised for floor consideration in both houses. Although the House bill technically shows no funds for "goals 2000,'' it set aside $100 million for the program if it is passed.

The Senate allocated $100 million for the Administration's new school-to-work-transition initiative, which lawmakers say can be carried out under existing vocational-education law. The House allocated $67 million; the President had requested $270 million. The funds are to be divided equally between the Education and Labor departments.

While the Administration's proposed "safe schools'' legislation has not been passed, the Senate set aside $32.8 million under the drug-free-schools program for the purpose of stemming school violence. The House included no such funding. Mr. Clinton requested $75 million for the initiative.

The Administration also requested $15 million to fund teacher training demonstrations and $15 million for the department's share of a governmentwide urban-rural initiative, but neither program was funded in either version of HR 2518.

With the Administration's national performance review looming over the federal bureaucracy, Mr. Harkin noted, appropriators called for cutting more than a dozen small programs and about 124 full-time employees from the Education Department.

However, the Senate bill also includes a personnel floor for the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education departments that would protect roughly 157,000 employees from layoffs.

Other Highlights

Senate lawmakers joined their House colleagues in rejecting the Administration's proposal to halve federal impact-aid payments for children of families living or working on military bases, matching the House's funding of $123.6 million for that portion of the program. Overall impact-aid funding under the bill would be set at $748.4 million for fiscal 1994, $64.7 million less than the House.

The Senate bill also includes:

  • $6.96 billion for Chapter 1 compensatory-education programs, $259.6 million more than fiscal 1993 and $90 million more than the House, but $140 million less than requested.
  • $3.38 billion for Head Start, $600 million more than fiscal 1993 and about $10 million more than the House bill, but $774 million below the President's request.
  • $369.5 million for the Chapter 2 block grant, $66 million less than the 1993 level, $46 million less than requested, and the same as the House.
  • $232 million for bilingual and immigrant education, the same as the President's request and $6.5 million more than fiscal 1993, but $10.5 million less than the House.
  • $3.13 billion for special-education programs, a $169 million increase from 1993, $95 million above the House bill and $10 million more than requested.
  • $500 million for the drug-free-schools program, $98 million less than 1993 funding and the President's request, but $32.8 million more than the House bill.
  • $252.7 million for the Eisenhower mathematics and science program, the same as requested and $6.6 million more than the House.
  • $155.9 million for research and statistics, $4.1 million more than the House, but $32 million less than requested.
  • $6.3 billion for Pell Grants, the same as the House bill and the President's request.
  • $1.48 billion for vocational and adult education, $35.9 million more than requested and $9.19 million over both the House bill and 1993.

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