Spending Measure Clears Senate Panel With Hike for E.D.

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WASHINGTON--The Senate Appropriations Committee last week approved a $245 billion social-services spending bill for fiscal 1993 that includes $28.5 billion for Education Department programs.

That amount is $1.2 billion more than Congress approved for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. But the committee proposes applying $242 million to the $1.46 billion fiscal 1992 Pell Grant shortfall. Thus, the effective increase is 3.4 percent, roughly equal to the rate of inflation.

In July, the House approved a bill that calls for Education Department programs to receive $28.9 billion. (See Education Week, Aug. 5, 1992.)

The Senate allocation, also approved by the committee's subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, is $785 million less than the $29.2 million proposed by President Bush.

"Perhaps no subcommittee has more problems than this one'' with budget limits, said Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., its ranking Republican.

Mr. Specter and Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato, R-N.Y., said they will support a floor amendment to transfer $3.9 billion from the Defense Department to the social-services bill.

Proposed by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who chairs the subcommittee, the amendment would free up an additional $1.35 billion for education programs. (See Education Week, Sept. 9, 1992.)

Each attempt to make such a transfer since the budget agreement was struck in 1990 has been defeated, with most Republicans seconding Mr. Bush's opposition.

The Senate is expected to take up its version of HR 5677 soon.

Like the House appropriators, the Senate subcommittee faced several obstacles as they fashioned the spending bill, including:

  • An allotment of only $61.67 billion for discretionary spending, a 2 percent, or $1.2 billion, increase.
  • The Pell Grant shortfall. The committee requested a report on estimating methods.
  • $4 billion in delayed obligations included in the fiscal 1992 bill but counted as fiscal 1993 spending. Like the House, Senate appropriators declined the President's suggestion that $2.9 billion in new delays, including $300 million in education programs, be included in the 1993 bill.

America 2000 Ignored

Like their House counterparts, Senators did not fund a private-school voucher plan and other America 2000 initiatives. Mr. Bush requested $767.5 million for the programs, which have not been enacted.

The lawmakers also did not fund new programs enacted in the recent reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, although they did provide $10 million for start-up costs for the bill's direct-loan program, a pilot project scheduled for 1994.

Funding levels in the bill include:

  • $6.77 billion for Chapter 1 compensatory-education programs, a $64 million increase.
  • $5.96 billion for new Pell Grants, a 9 percent increase over last year, but $630 million less than the House allowance. The maximum grant would drop from $2,400 to $2,300. Overall, aid programs would receive $7.4 billion under the bill.
  • $752 million for impact aid, a $20 million decrease and $12 million less than the House allocation. Both the House and Senate bills call for the use of prior-year data in allocations, eliminating the need for special payments to districts experiencing unforseen losses of students. The bill rejects a House proposal to focus $10 million on districts educating a large proportion of impact-aid children.
  • $147.3 million for research, $911,000 less than 1992, $15.5 million less than the House, and $96 million less than the Administration request. The Senate bill would provide less than the House for the National Center for Education Statistics but more for other research activity.
  • $224 million for bilingual education, a $1.3 million decrease, and $7.2 million less than the House bill.
  • $3.05 billion for special education, $200 million more than 1992 and $130 million more than the House.
  • $1.55 billion for the Chapter 2 block grant, a $20 million cut.
  • $1.185 billion for vocational education, $44 million more than 1992 and $14 million less than the House.
  • $2.8 billion for Head Start, which matches the President's proposed increase of $600 million.

Vol. 12, Issue 02

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