House Approves $28.6 Billion Budget for Education

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WASHINGTON--The House has approved a $259.8 billion social-services spending bill for fiscal 1994 that includes $28.6 billion for Education Department programs--an overall increase of $1.07 billion, or 4 percent, for the department from this year.

Under the bill, HR 2518, passed late last month, discretionary education programs would receive $24.2 billion in the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. That would be an increase of $1.02 billion, or 4.5 percent.

The rate of inflation currently is running at about 3 percent.

During earlier action on the bill, the Appropriations Committee and its Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee rejected many of the cuts to education programs that President Clinton proposed earlier in the year.

The panels also rejected many of the President's proposed spending increases for such programs as education research and statistics. His funding requests for new education-reform and worker-training legislation also were dramatically reduced.

In its report on the bill, the committee called for an evaluation of the Chapter 1 compensatory-education program, which it would fund at $6.87 billion in fiscal 1994, with only an increase for inflation over fiscal 1993.

Expansion of Chapter 1, the report said, should not take place when experts question the program's effectiveness and quality. Moreover, the committee urged the department and the Education and Labor Committee to use the upcoming reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to develop a better funding-allocation formula.

Pell Grant Questions

The Appropriations Committee also urged authorizers to make changes to the Pell Grant program, which it said has "largely eliminated funds for other education needs'' because of growing costs and chronic shortfalls.

The panel suggested changes that would lower the program's cost and provide the department with more flexibility to set eligibility and payment levels.

"Such legislative changes must reflect the reality of the current budget deficit, which is likely to limit funding for the foreseeable future not only for student aid but for domestic programs broadly,'' the report said.

The panel also called for a General Accounting Office study of the program.

HR 2518 would provide $6.3 billion for the Pell Grant program, which would allow for a maximum grant of $2,250, $50 less than the fiscal 1993 maximum. The maximum grant could be raised to the 1993 level if Congress enacted cost-cutting legislative changes, such as tighter eligibility critieria, that have been proposed by the President.

The bill includes $415 million to help alleviate the program's current $2 billion shortfall.

The report also asks the department to reconsider its plan to finance the administrative cost of its direct-loan program with permanent appropriations, which would exempt those discretionary costs from the annual appropriations process--and from the control of appropriators.

"No matter how convenient, it is not reasonable that federal salary and other overhead costs be given preferential treatment,'' the report contends.

Abortion Language

HR 2518 includes $22.8 million for new loan subsidies for the direct loan demonstration program.

The House passed the bill by a vote of 305 to 124 after voting to include language that would prevent the federal funding of abortions unless the woman's life is threatened or in the case of rape or incest.

President Clinton is opposed to such language, and it is unclear whether he will sign the bill. But some lawmakers fear that without such language, the bill could be blocked in the Senate.

The Senate's version of a social-services spending bill will likely be marked up in September. An aide to Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, declined to discuss the prospects for the abortion language in the Senate version of the spending bill.

Senate appropriators on the subcommittee will have a little more than $67 billion to divide among programs under its jurisdiction--$50 million more than the House had, nearly $6 billion less than the President proposed, and about $5 billion more than fiscal 1993.

Head Start Gains

The Head Start program is among those treated most favorably in HR 2518. The bill would provide $3.28 billion in fiscal 1994 for the program, an increase of $500 million, but nearly $874 million below the President's request.

The bill's report suggests that increases devoted to the program be used for such quality-improvement activities as staff development and expansion to full-day programs.

Noting that the Health and Human Services Department is in the process of reviewing the program, the report suggests that Secretary Donna E. Shalala consider the program in relation to other social-service programs and work with the Education and Labor departments to better coordinate services.

HR 2518 includes $100 million to be used for as yet unspecified education-reform activities, although the Appropriations Committee hopes the money will be used for grants under the Administration's "goals 2000'' legislation moving through Congress. Mr. Clinton had requested $525 million for these programs. (See related story, page 21.)

The Administration had also requested that the Education and Labor departments each receive $135 million for a new school-to-work initiative; HR 2518 would give each agency $33.7 million.

The Appropriations Committee also rejected the President's funding for a major increase in education-research funding, a request Mr. Clinton's Republican predecessors had also made with little success.

Those programs would be funded at fiscal 1993 levels--$74 million for research, $48.6 million for statistics, and $29.3 million for the National Assessment of Educational Progress--under HR 2518. The President had asked for an additional $16.8 million, $11.4 million, and $35.7 million, respectively, for the programs.

The lawmakers also rejected the Administration's proposal to eliminate federal impact-aid payments for children of families living or working on military bases. HR 2518 would fund that portion of the program at the same level as last year, with $135 million being appropriated. It would set overall impact-aid funding at $813 million in fiscal 1994, $63 million more than this year.

HR 2518 also would restore funding for library programs and campus-based student-aid programs, such as work-study and the State Student Incentive Grant program.

Other Highlights

The House bill also includes:

  • $1.34 billion for Chapter 2 and other school-improvement programs, $159 million below the Administration's request and $197 million below the fiscal 1993 appropriation. Among the reductions was $129 million trimmed from grants for drug-free schools and communities, which would be funded at $370 million.
  • $243 million for bilingual and immigrant education, $10.5 million above Mr. Clinton's proposal and $17 million more than in 1993.
  • $3 billion for special-education programs, $73.8 million more than this year but $85.5 million below the President's request.
  • $2.25 billion for rehabilitation services and disability research, equal to the Administration's request and a $68 million increase.
  • $1.47 billion for vocational and adult education, the same as in 1993 and $26.7 million more than the President requested.
  • An estimated $2.25 billion, including $2.1 billion for new loan subsidies, for the Federal Family Education Loan Program.
  • $419 million for the TRIO higher-education programs for the disadvantaged, $20 million more than the President had wanted and $30 million more than in 1993.
  • $449 million for childhood immunizations, which is $108 million more than this year, but $218 million below the President's request. The committee said that while it was supportive of further increases, it was unable to match Mr. Clinton's proposal because of budgetary constraints.

Stimulus Supplemental

In a separate action, President Clinton earlier this month signed HR 2118, the remnants of his attempt to provide a stimulus to the economy this summer.

The $3.5 billion supplemental-spending bill includes $341 million to help alleviate the Pell Grant shortfall and $220 million for summer youth-jobs programs, $50 million of which will go to the Youth Fair Chance program.

HR 2118 also includes $2.5 billion in spending offsets, but none of the offsets come from Education Department programs, as they would have in an earlier version of the bill.

The bill calls for a fiscal 1993 rescission of $50 million from Labor Department job-training programs.

Originally, Mr. Clinton proposed supplemental spending of $16.3 billion that included more than $4 billion for summer youth jobs, Chapter 1, the Pell Grant shortfall, and Head Start. It was stalled in the Senate by a Republican filibuster.

Vol. 12, Issue extra edition

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