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Federal File: Branstad backing out; Keeping up appearances

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Branstad Backing Out

Gov. Terry E. Branstad of Iowa has warned President Clinton that his state will back out of the Administration's Goals 2000 education-reform initiative unless the law is changed.

In a Jan. 23 letter, Mr. Branstad said that "Iowa would like to continue to be a part of Goals 2000 education reform," but that, without some changes, it will not request additional funding. The state has already received a $867,961 planning grant.

Mr. Branstad asked for elimination of the National Education Standards and Improvement Council and a requirement that states set academic standards.

The White House is preparing a response.

Keeping up Appearances

In a news release announcing the formation of a task force to study the dismantling of the Education Department, Rep. Joe Scarborough, R-Fla., has decried the Clinton Administration's plan to renovate the agency's headquarters.

At a time when the Administration is proposing to eliminate $100 million for the repair and renovation of schools, the release said, President Clinton's proposed 1996 budget includes $20 million for the office overhaul.

"This is Washington at its worst, and it has to be stopped," Mr. Scarborough, the chairman of the task force, said.

But it turns out that a supplemental appropriations bill crafted by G.O.P. members would also scuttle the fiscal 1995 spending for school construction. (See related story.)

Moreover, the renovation plans were recommended by the General Services Administration and approved under the Administration of Republican President George Bush.

A spokeswoman for the G.S.A., which maintains most federal buildings, said that federal buildings are maintained on a regular schedule and that the E.D. building is next in line. She said it is in desperate need of renovations, including asbestos removal; improved fire-alarm, mechanical, and electrical systems; and a new floor plan to accommodate more workers.

When the renovation is completed in late 1997, all department employees will be housed in the building. Currently, the agency uses three buildings.

The G.S.A. plans to spend $48 million over the life of the project, while the department's request for $20 million is its total share. Officials expect the renovations to save as much as $3 million a year.

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