Senate Votes To Increase Math, Science Funds

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The Senate has approved a $19- billion bill to pay for federal education programs in fiscal 1987, including increases for Chapter 1 compensatory education. handicapped programs, vocational and adult education, and Pell Grant to undergraduates.

The measure (H R 5233) passed on an 83-to-12 vote with y a handful of amendments to the versions reported Aug. 15 by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The major change, sponsored by Senators Pete Domenici, Republican of New Mexico, and Lawton Chiles, Democrat of Florida, added 57 million to the current $43-million grant program for training mathematics and science teachers. In its budget resolution, the Congress allowed up to $400 million for this line item.

Also, senators added $1 million for "law-related programs" in schools related to the bicentennial celebration of the U.S. Constitution next year. An amendment to save the $30-million immigrant-education program was withdrawn.

Final spending decisions await action by a House-Senate conference committee. The House has yet to vote on funds for postsecondary education, pending final reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. For other education programs, the House has approved about $300 million more than the Senate.

Prospects for education-spending increases were clouded somewhat by a recent General Accounting Office report.

For the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, the G.A.O. projected a deficit of $167.6 billion for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1-$4.2 billion higher than the joint estimate issued last month by the Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office.

Although the Supreme Court has invalidated the G.A.o.'s official role in the Gramm.Rudman-Hollings process, its report is expected to increase political pressure for additional budget cuts. In particular, the grimmer estimate could discourage the Congress from using an expected $11 billion surplus from tax-overhaul legislation to meet deficit reduction targets.

Under Gramm-Rudman-Hollings, if the fiscal 1987 deficit exceeds $154- billion, lawmakers would have to vote on across-the-board cuts early next month.. Domestic programs, including federal aid to education, would be pared by 7.6 percent, according to the O.M.B.-C.B.O. projection. Based on the G.A.O.'S forecast, the required cut would be 9.4 percent. Still, most observers believe the Congress will look hard elsewhere for savings or revenues to avoid taking the meat-ax approach just a month before Election Day.

Vol. 06, Issue 02, Page 14

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