Education, Child Care Thrive in House Budget Plan

By Julie A. Miller — May 03, 1989 3 min read

Washington--The House Budget Committee last week approved guidelines for the fiscal 1990 budget that would earmark the lion’s share of new spending for education and child-care programs.

The plan allots $42 billion for the spending category that includes education, $1.3 billion more than the budget resolution adopted by the Senate Budget Committee.

Like the Senate panel’s plan, the resolution approved last week adheres to the broad outlines of the budget agreement between the White House and Congressional leaders, which limits overall domestic discretionary spending to $157.5 billion.

But the House panel made different divisions between domestic spending categories, and “Function 500"--which covers education, training, and social services--was the big winner.

That function was allotted $30.6- billion in discretionary budget authority, $1.1 billion more than allocated by the Senate panel and $3 billion more than the amount needed to maintain services at current levels.

The House panel gave only three other areas of the budget larger allocations than its Senate counterpart did, and those disparities are smaller than that for education, health, and social programs.

‘A Great Job’

“I think the House has done a great job,” said a buoyant Gerald Morris, an associate director of the American Federation of Teachers and president of the Committee for Education Funding.

“They included good marks for education. They recognized it as an important area for investment,” Mr. Morris said, as education lobbyists celebrated in a hallway outside the committee room.

A budget committee aide said a report accompanying the House resolution would specify that the panel intends that $1.6 billion of the amount recommended for Function 500 be provided to education programs.

In addition, several committee members said they assume that almost $2 million would be used for an anticipated new child-care program.

The two chambers’ appropriations committees will make the final decision on funding for specific programs.

‘Summit’ Agreement Assailed

The budget resolution was approved by a vote of 18 to 6, after three hours of closed-door negotiations and more than an hour of public debate.

Several committee members assailed the “budget summit” agreement on which the resolution was based, arguing that it relies on overly optimistic economic assumptions and budgetary gimmicks to meet deficit-reduction targets. Some members of the Senate budget panel raised similar complaints when they approved their resolution.

Despite such concerns, proposals to freeze spending at 1989 levels were defeated by both committees. The House panel also defeated amendments that would have increased the allocation for veterans’ programs and earmarked any unspent child-care funds for anti-drug programs.

The “report language” accompanying the House bill was not available last week. Committee members and aides, however, said it includes a provision dealing with child care that sparked a lengthy debate in closed session.

The report will also include instructions to authorizing committees to find savings in mandatory programs within their jurisdiction. A committee aide said none of the requested cuts falls in the Function 500 category.

The Senate panel’s bill, in contrast, asks the Labor and Human Resources Committee to find $250 million in reductions, at least partially from changes in the Stafford student-loan program, aides said.

Cost savings in mandatory programs will be combined with as-yet-unspecified revenue increases in a “reconciliation” bill, which will be sent to the President along with appropriations measures.

A version of this article appeared in the May 03, 1989 edition of Education Week as Education, Child Care Thrive in House Budget Plan