Federal File: Budgetary confusion; Goodling talks taxes; Quayle goes to schoolPink slips

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The budget revisions unveiled by President Bush on Feb. 9 were prepared in such strict secrecy that Education Department officials did not know until a few hours before Mr. Bush's speech to the Congress what he would propose for their agency.

Mahlon Anderson, spokesman for Secretary of Education Lauro F. Cavazos, said that morning that department officials wouldn't "know anything until he comes back from the Cabinet meeting this afternoon."

While briefing reporters shortly before the Bush speech, Charles E.M. Kolb, deputy undersecretary for planning, budget, and evaluation, admitted that he was not certain about the bottom line--the total spending the President was proposing for the department. Department staff joined reporters in leafing through the White House budget documents and attempting to decode them.

Department officials did not even know if they would be able to hold such a news briefing until the afternoon of the 9th.

A week before, Mr. Anderson said ed officials wanted to brief reporters on the specifics of Mr. Bush's education proposals, as they had done every year with President Reagan's budget plans.

On Feb. 8, he said department officials had been ordered by the White House not to talk to anyone until Feb. 10.

"The [White House] press office said they would handle everything," Mr. Anderson said. "The implication is that we in the Cabinet agencies wouldn't spin it the way they want it spun, and I don't necessarily agree with that."

The morning of the speech, Mr. Anderson said Mr. Cavazos had been given permission to discuss the budget proposals with representatives of the education community, but that the department was still prohibited from giving the same information to reporters.

The policy changed again that afternoon.

"Maybe they realized that they definitely wouldn't like the spin we'd give it," one education advocate surmised.

Representative William F. Goodling, Republican of Pennsylvania, revealed last week that he is developing a plan to secure more funding for education programs without breaking President Bush's pledge of "no new taxes."

At a National Assessment of Educational Progress briefing, Mr. Goodling teased reporters with a glimpse of his plan, but refused to reveal details.

"Some of your bosses will have to pay for it," he said. When asked if he meant a tax on newspaper and magazine publishers, he responded ''not necessarily."

The ranking minority member of the Education and Labor Committee said he needed more time to "sell" his idea to government and business leaders, but added that he had "not been turned down yet" in talks with other lawmakers.

Mr. Bush's pledge may be interpreted as a promise simply not to increase individual income-tax rates, he said, but new revenues could be generated by changing existing taxes or imposing new user fees.

Stay tuned for an announcement "early in March," he said.

Vice President Dan Quayle made his first official domestic visit Feb. 10--to an elementary school in a troubled part of Miami.

While visiting a 1st-grade class and attending an assembly at Charles R. Drew elementary school, Mr. Quayle said he liked the students' blue plaid uniforms and was impressed when he learned that about 200 pupils come to school for extra help on Saturdays.

Mr. Quayle also said that the students were better behaved than those in the suburban Fairfax County, Va., schools his children attend, where he said he had often spoken to students.

The Fairfax schools "are considered to be a good school system," Mr. Quayle said, but "I can tell you there is a marked difference in discipline in a positive context here in Dade County schools. ..."

Now that the Quayles have moved into the Vice Presidential residence in Washington, two of the family's three children are transferring to private schools. The eldest child, 14-year-old Tucker, will finish the year at Fairfax's Langley High.

Reagan Administration appointees in the Education Department are starting to receive the bad news they have expected for a month.

All the old Administration's political appointees were asked to submit their resignations when Mr. Reagan left office, and agency officials have begun notifying many of them that the resignations have been accepted.

The Education Department began notifying its lower-level political appointees of their fate two weeks ago, said Bill R. Phillips, Secretary Cavazos' chief of staff. Of some 100 political workers, about 30 have been given marching orders, he said, and others will go out "in waves."

At least 90 percent will not be retained, Mr. Phillips said last week.

Higher-level officials, whose replacements must be confirmed by the Senate, will stay on longer, he said, adding that the final paperwork was being completed on some of those appointments and that announcements were expected soon.--jm & ws

Vol. 08, Issue 22

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