Congress Approves Urban Aid, Expanded Child-Welfare Services

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WASHINGTON--Congress last week approved a tax bill that would provide extra education and social-services aid to distressed areas, expand preventive child-welfare services, and help states fund education and training for welfare recipients.

House and Senate conferees reached agreement early last week on the $27 billion tax-relief and urban-aid legislation, and the House and Senate both passed the conference report before adjourning for the year. The White House has signaled, however, that President Bush is likely to veto the measure.

The bill, which balances tax reductions with tax-raising measures to avoid increasing the deficit, contains many provisions backed by Mr. Bush. But signing it would require him to disregard his renewed "no new taxes'' pledge.

The House passed the bill by a vote of 208 to 202, and, after a filibuster, the Senate approved it 67 to 22.

Redirects Foster-Care Aid

The bill would provide tax incentives to spur business in 50 "enterprise zones'' in distressed areas, half urban and half rural. It also would provide "weed and seed'' money for education, training, and social service programs.

The bill would authorize $180 million in fiscal 1993 for public-private partnerships to invest in Head Start, community health centers, and the Jobs Corps, as well as grants to community-development corporations, community-based lending organizations, and a new youth-training program called YouthBuild.

The bill would also authorize $320 million in block grants for the zones to draw aid from federal programs in child care and education; health, nutrition, and family assistance; housing and community development; and crime and community policing.

Another section of HR 11 is aimed at reorienting foster-care aid toward "family preservation.''

The child-welfare provisions, totaling $2.2 billion over five years, would establish "capped entitlement'' funds to help states aid families at risk of having a child placed in foster care, fund substance-abuse prevention and treatment programs, and offer respite care to children with special needs.

It would also fund improvements in foster care, adoption programs, and data collection, and offer tax breaks to families that adopt special-needs children.

HR 11 would also aid state welfare-reform efforts by increasing funds for the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training program and setting a more favorable federal matching rate in fiscal years 1993, 1994, and 1995; make it easier for welfare clients to pursue educational programs under êïâó; and allow them to keep up to $8,000 in savings without losing benefits if they use it for education or training.

Vol. 12, Issue 06

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