Capital Digest

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The House last week rejected a deficit-reduction package that would have restricted education spending over the next five years, opting instead for Administration-backed cuts that barely touch education programs.

The failed package--proposed by Reps. Timothy J. Penny, D-Minn., and John R. Kasich, R-Ohio--was offered as an amendment to the White House plan that would cut $37 billion over the next five years.

Besides making direct cuts of $46 million in relatively small education programs, the Penny-Kasich proposal would have effectively tightened existing caps on domestic discretionary spending. (See Education Week, Nov. 24, 1993.)

Child advocates were also alarmed about a provision that would consolidate the child-care block grant with several other human-services programs and cut the merged programs by 4 percent.

Updating the Census: The House last week passed a bill by voice vote that would require the Census Bureau to report poverty data every two years, beginning in 1996.

Census data are used to determine spending allocations for many formula-driven programs, including Chapter 1. Because the data are now only collected every 10 years, growing districts do not receive extra funding until the next census.

The bill would allow the bureau to use such techniques as sampling to make biennial estimates. The bureau has already begun developing such a methodology, but statisticians warned at a hearing this summer that such techniques would lead to inaccuracies.

Crime Bill: The Senate last week approved, by a 95-to-4 vote, a massive $22 billion crime bill that would authorize millions of dollars for crime-prevention programs involving children and schools.

The bill would authorize $100 million for grants to assist schools in violent neighborhoods, fund gang-prevention projects, and call on states to develop alternative detention facilities for juveniles. (See Education Week, Nov. 3, 1993.)

Meanwhile, the House last week added HR 3351, which passed on a 336-to-82 vote, to a list of separate crime-prevention bills that the chamber had earlier approved. It would authorize $200 million for efforts to create alternative punishments for juveniles.

Lawmakers added amendments that would require states to mandate maximum sentences for handgun crimes occurring within 100 yards of a school and school suspensions and drivers-license forfeiture for students caught with guns.

The House also passed bills that would require background checks on child-care providers; require anyone convicted of a crime against a minor to register for 10 years after his release; and make it a crime for juveniles to possess handguns.

It is unclear how and when lawmakers plan to reconcile the omnibus Senate bill with the House bills.

Vol. 13, Issue 13

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