Administration Asks for More Cuts
Washington--The Reagan Administration announced last week that it will seek an additional $13 billion in 1982 budget cuts, including $2.65 billion in education reductions, beyond those agreed to by Congress during the budget-authorization process in July.
The reductions, coming on top of the $2.12 billion already cut from education programs, could lead to a 12 percent reduction in federal spending for education next year.
Congress, which returns this week from an August recess, will be asked to incorporate the $13 billion in cuts into a series of appropriations bills. Observers predict strenuous resistance to the latest proposed reductions, which could lead to a budget struggle with the President similar to last summer's "budget reconciliation" bout. The Administration won that round, in which $35 billion was extracted from numerous domestic programs.
Bad Faith Charged
President Reagan's latest request was denounced last Monday by New York Congressman Peter Peyser, a Democratic member of the House Education and Labor Committee, who said he "felt betrayed." The Administration, he said, acted "in bad faith in its work with the Congress during the 1982 budget process."
Ed Dale, a spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), denying the "bad faith" accusation, said a larger-than-expected deficit prompted the Administration to return to its original request of last March, which called for a cut of $48 billion in the fiscal 1982 budget.
He said President Reagan had given no indication that he was satisfied with the cuts already made. In fact, he said, the President has threatened to veto any appropriations bill that is larger than his March request.
If enacted, the additional reductions will result in a federal education budget of $13.1 billion, 12 percent less than the 1981 budget of $14.9 billion.
If the budget were to remain at the level authorized by Congress in July, with no additional cuts, actual spending for education would grow slightly--by 5 percent, not accounting for inflation.
Congressman Peyser said he had been under the impression that the authorization levels agreed to by Congress would not be subject to further cuts this fall.
Sources in the Education Department and o.m.b. have told him, Mr. Peyser said, that the Administration will attempt to cut an additional $250 million from handicapped-education programs, $100 million from national direct student loans, and $1-to-$2 billion from Title I programs for disadvantaged students.
"We are trying to meet overall the goals of the March budget figure," said Anne Graham, assistant secretary of education for legislation and public affairs. "If, in going back to the Hill during the appropriations process, it looks like we can achieve cutbacks in some areas and not in others, then that's the route that will be seriously considered," Ms. Graham said.
Cuts in the specific programs mentioned by Mr. Peyser have not yet been decided, she said.
Another Education Department official, who asked not to be identified, said additional cuts would be requested for Title I, handicapped education, and vocational education--three of the largest federal education programs.
A spokesman for Carl Perkins, the Kentucky Democrat who heads the Education and Labor Committee, said Mr. Perkins was "displeased and disappointed about the [Administration's] proposals, but he is not surprised."
The education budget will be part of a bill that includes appropriations for the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services. Robert Knisely, spokesman for the House Appropriations subcommittee that will mark up the bill sometime in September, said members would not make a decision on the latest proposed cuts until they receive requests for specific program cuts from the Administration. Those requests are expected sometime this week.
With less than a month left before the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1, it is unlikely that the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education budget bill will be passed before that time.
Because federal programs cannot operate without passage of appropriations measures by Congress, observers expect that the bill will be lumped together with several others into a "continuing resolution," enacted quickly before the end of September. This "package" could include the cuts the President seeks.
Vol. 01, Issue 01, Page 8