Democratic Budget Is Unveiled

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WASHINGTON The chairman of the Senate Budget Committee last week unveiled the first Democratic response to the Reagan Administration's fiscal 1988 spending plan for federal programs in education and other areas.

Under the budget plan offered by Senator Lawton Chiles, Democrat of Florida, federal spending for education would increase by about $100 million next year and by $1.1 billion in fiscal 1989. The chairman's "economic power'' initiative would earmark most of those funds for literacy efforts, dropout prevention, vocational programs, and the Job Corps.

Mr. Chiles's plan rejects the deep cuts in vocational education and aid to college students requested by President Reagan. The Administration had sought to cut spending for the Education Department by about $5.5 billion under its current level.

Overall, funding for the "function 500'' category of programs, which includes education, job-training, and other social services, would increase only slightly after inflation under Mr. Chiles's plan. New programs would be paid for with reductions and spending freezes in other areas.

The Senator's plan now faces the scrutiny of his fellow members on the budget panel, who are under an April 10 deadline to produce a budget resolution that lays out general targets for both revenue and spending for the 1988 fiscal year, which begins on Oct. 1.

Although the resolution's spending targets are not binding, the other Congressional committees may not exceed them in setting appropriations.

In a direct challenge to the President, Mr. Chiles is calling for a $19- billion tax increase to help eliminate the federal deficit. Democratic leaders in both the House and the Senate have advocated a budget package that includes higher revenues, but Mr. Reagan has repeatedly vowed to veto any effort to raise taxes.

Democrats on the House Budget Committee, meanwhile, appeared close last week to producing their own spending plan, after failing to persuade their Republican colleagues to join in their deliberations.

Late last week, committee Democrats were predicting such a plan would be finished before the end of the week. Their draft budget reportedly would cut both military and domestic spending by about $9 billion, and raise some $18 billion in new revenues. --WW

Vol. 06, Issue 27

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