News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
Tax Bill Includes School Construction Relief
The House has passed a broad-based tax-relief bill that would include some relief for districts facing school construction expenses.
Under HR 4579, the proposed Taxpayer Relief Act of 1998, districts would be allowed to keep revenues earned from local bonds for up to four years rather than the two years now allowed. That would free up about $1.3 billion a year from interest and other revenues earned on school construction bonds, according to the American Association of School Administrators in Arlington, Va.
The Sept. 26 vote fell mainly along party lines, 229-195. President Clinton, who argues that any budget surplus should be used to save Social Security, has announced that he would veto the tax bill, which is supported mainly by Republicans.
One Republican who opposed the tax bill, Rep. Michael N. Castle of Delaware, said during the floor debate that it would be irresponsible to spend the estimated $63 billion tax surplus given signs that the economy is slowing down.
Because of the short amount of time left before Congress adjourns this month, the measure will likely bypass a committee vote and instead go directly before the full Senate,said Christina Pearson, a spokeswoman for the Senate Finance Committee.
--JOETTA L. SACK
ED Unveils Effort To Promote After-School Programs
The Department of Education is joining with media and entertainment figures to promote after-school programs, an idea that a recent poll says is popular with the public.
Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley announced the initiative late last month at a Washington junior high school, where he was joined by members of Congress and representatives of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and People magazine.
The groups will work together to organize events and advertisements to encourage more districts and schools to host after-school activities. Television personality Leeza Gibbons will serve as the effort's spokeswoman.
"I have not seen so much support for any idea since sliced bread," said Mr. Riley in his announcement. "We know that children's minds are working all the time, and we must give these young minds as many opportunities to grow and learn as we can."
Mr. Riley also cited a survey of 800 registered voters by the Flint, Mich.-based Mott Foundation, which found that 93 percent of the respondents supported the expansion of after-school programs for all children. Eighty percent of the respondents also said they were willing to pay more in taxes to help support such programs.
--JOETTA L. SACK
Vol. 18, Issue 6, Page 26