WASHINGTON--The chairman of the House Budget Committee is expected this week to seek his panel’s backing for a long-term, comprehensive budget strategy.
Among other proposals, the plan calls for the federal government to spend as much as an additional $120 billion over 10 years on selected education programs, in particular Head Start and Chapter 1.
The document, which has not been released publicly, is the result of a series of bipartisan discussions among panel members since early October.
Representative Leon E. Panetta, the California Democrat who chairs the committee, had announced last month that he would undertake a comprehensive review of federal budget priorities in light of the world’s changing political climate. (See Education Week, Oct. 16, 1991 .)
Mr. Panetta said at a news conference at that time that up to $120 billion in additional resources should be earmarked for education, but did not specify which programs.
According to a draft outline of the report, the additional funds would first go to achieve “full funding” of Head Start, which is administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, and Chapter 1 compensatory education.
The document does not make clear, however, how much it would cost to fully fund the two programs or whether there would be any increases for other education programs.
In fiscal 1991, Head Start received $1.95 billion and served 596,295 children, while Chapter 1 got $6.08 billion and served 6.9 million students.
The House Human Resources Subcommittee has estimated that 1.87 million children are eligible for Head Start, and that fully funding the program would cost about $6.8 billion a year. Because eligibility for Chapter 1 is based on a complex interplay of income and educational-need criteria and differs among school districts, it is difficult to determine what would constitute “full funding” of that program.
If fully funding those programs takes less than $120 billion, the report recommends using the remaining funds for increases in Even Start and special-education, vocational-education, and student-aid programs.
In addition to the education increases, the draft outline calls for up to $90 billion in new spending over 10 years on health programs, including the school-breakfast program and childhood immunizations.
A source familiar with the document and the committee’s work said the panel aims to earmark additional spending for “programs that work.”
Republican Stance Unclear
Also unclear last week was whether any of the committee’s Republicans would lend support to the final document.
An aide to Bill Gradison of Ohio, the panel’s ranking Republican, said the discussions over the 10-year plan have been informal and that she is not sure how other Republican lawmakers feel about it.
“I’m not sure there’s been a lot of cohesive thought en the response,” the aide said. “I think everyone wants to look at the process, but it’s very difficult to look at specifics.”
An aide to Representative Bill Goodling, the Pennsylvania Republican who sits on both the Education and Labor and Budget committees, said that making such long-term budget plans is premature because the political situation is constantly changing.
In addition to targeting resources, the draft outline calls for reducing the federal deficit by slashing spending for defense, entitlements, and unspecified domestic programs.
The draft also calls for “streamlining government” by consolidating several Cabinet departments. Although not detailed in the draft, Mr. Panetta at his news conference last month suggested that the Education Department become a part of a new Department of Human Resources.
Mr. Panetta took up the issue at the request of Speaker of the House Thomas S. Foley.
In his October announcement, the chairman noted that pressure was building on the Congress and the White House to revise or scrap the five-year budget deal they crafted last year.
The agreement set spending caps on domestic, defense, and international spending and prevents the transfer of funds between defense and domestic accounts.
A version of this article appeared in the November 27, 1991 edition of Education Week as House Panel Chairman Proposes 10-Year Budget Plan