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Clinton Signs Bill Boosting ED Budget by $3.6 Billion

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President Clinton last week declared victory for America's schools after he signed a bill to raise federal education spending by $3.6 billion.

The new federal budget "moves us further toward our goal of a balanced budget while protecting our values and priorities," Mr. Clinton said in a statement after signing the bill Sept. 30.

The final agreement meets the priorities of both Democrats and Republicans, adding money for Title I and the Goals 2000: Educate America Act to appease Mr. Clinton while boosting special education and financial-aid programs to please congressional Republicans. ("Republicans Settle on Generous Budget Bill," Oct. 2, 1996.)

"It's clearly a victory for the president and the priorities that he has been fighting for," White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta told reporters a few hours before Mr. Clinton signed the bill. "Education is the most significant area of restoration in terms of investments."

The measure gives Department of Education programs $28.8 billion for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.

Fight Will Continue

House Republicans, too, took credit for gains such as increasing the maximum Pell Grant from $2,500 to $2,700. And they promised that after the elections, they would renew their fight to scale back federal K-12 programs, even though their fiscal 1997 budget acceded to Mr. Clinton's request to raise spending on Title I compensatory education by $470 million and on Goals 2000 by $141 million.

"We are trying to downsize the bureaucracy in Washington and put mothers and fathers back in charge of the schoolhouse in their communities," Rep. John Kasich, R-Ohio, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, said at a news conference as negotiators worked out the final details of the agreement.

In the final days of talks over 1997 funding, White House aides and congressional negotiators added $90 million to the education plan Republicans had proposed as a compromise.

Most of the added money went to the Title VI school-improvement-strategies program, formerly Chapter 2, and the federal professional-development program for teachers. Both programs were funded at $275 million last year and each won a $35 million increase.

Most of the compromise figures included in that proposal stayed in the bill Mr. Clinton signed hours before fiscal 1997 began. The final product includes increases of $791 million for special education and $248 million for school technology.

The final deal did not change Goals 2000 to make Virginia, a state that has balked at participating, eligible to receive money without writing a detailed plan to improve its schools. State officials had sought such a change.

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