E.D. Gets Boost To $31.7 Billion In Clinton Budget

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The Education Department is one of the few federal agencies that would get a boost under the fiscal 1995 budget President Clinton unveiled last week.

The proposed spending plan for the year that begins Oct. 1 would allot the department a total of $31.7 billion, including big increases for the Administration's reform agenda and for Chapter 1.

Department programs received $28.8 billion for fiscal 1994.

The proposal for 1995 includes $26.1 billion in discretionary spending for the department--an increase of 7 percent, or $1.7 billion, over 1994. Over all, it would provide nearly a 10 percent increase.

"This is perhaps the beginning of a statement of priority that we've been looking for,'' said Richard A. Kruse, the director of federal relations for the National Association of Secondary School Principals. He noted the difficulty of proposing new spending in an era of tight budget caps.

In addition, agency officials said the department will be spared in part from a downsizing effort that is to cut 252,000 federal employees over the next five years. About 350 new employees would be added to run the new direct-loan program, offset by 222 cuts in other areas of the department.

To help offset the cost of the President's initiatives, however, the budget includes a list of 33 relatively small education programs that the department proposes to eliminate, for a savings of roughly $640 million.

Many programs on that list were apparently targeted by the Administration's "national performance review,'' which called for cutting 33 education programs but did not name them.

However, one of the programs that budget documents list as being eliminated, for immigrant education, would actually be revamped rather than cut. And while aid to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is also listed as a cut, the budget would continue to fund it under a new professional-development program the Administration has proposed.

The deficit-reduction package that squeaked through Congress last year essentially freezes all discretionary domestic spending for five years, putting the squeeze on education and other programs.

Thus, the proposed increase for education is "a pretty big jump at this time,'' Undersecretary of Education Marshall S. Smith said last week. "It wasn't as big last year, and people were disappointed.''

"Now we're ready,'' he said, noting that legislation to enact the Administration's Goals 2000 program and a new school-to-work program is moving toward final approval, along with a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. (See stories, pages 17 and 19.)

This progress makes it more likely Congress will fund the new programs, said an aide to Rep. William H. Natcher, D-Ky., who chairs the House Appropriations Committee.

Governmentwide Effort

Administration initiatives such as Goals 2000 and the school-to-work-transition proposal would clearly be big winners in Mr. Clinton's budget.

But the proposed budget also illustrates the Administration's view that improving education requires a governmentwide effort.

"The good news is not only within the parameters of the Education Department,'' said Deputy Secretary of Education Madeleine M. Kunin.

In the Health and Human Services Department, for example, Head Start would receive a $700 million increase, for a proposed total of $4 billion in 1995.

Child-care block grants would receive $1.1 billion, a 20 percent hike from 1994. Child immunizations would be funded at $888 million, up from $693 million in 1994.

Mr. Clinton's new Corporation for National and Community Service would receive $610 million. That includes $156 million for the National Service Trust, which would offer 33,000 grants for volunteers. AmeriCorps grants, which are to aid states and nonprofit organizations in running service programs, would receive $262 million.

Mixed Picture at Labor

The budget would give the Labor Department increases in the summer youth-employment program and the Job Corps, coupled with a cut in the year-round component of the Job Training Partnership Act.

A 1992 study found that the program for out-of-school youths did not significantly raise their earnings. The year-round portion of the program would be cut under the President's budget by $60 million below its current appropriation, for a total of $599 million.

The summer youth-employment program, another component of the J.T.P.A., would receive a $168 million increase, to $1.1 billion.

Mr. Clinton also requested $1.2 billion for the Job Corps, a residential training and education program for unemployed youths, for an increase of $116 million.

The Labor Department would also share management and funding of one of the Administration's initiatives with the Education Department. The school-to-work program would receive $300 million, split evenly between the two agencies. Congress allotted $100 million for the program for 1994.

Fiscal 1994 funding for Goals 2000, the school-to-work program, and a pending "safe schools'' proposal can be spent only if the legislation is enacted by April 1.

Goals 2000 would receive $700 million in fiscal 1995. For 1994, appropriators granted the program $105 million. While the Administration intends to ask for $1 billion in each subsequent year, bills pending in both the House and Senate would authorize far less.

Some existing programs would also be slated for increases.

The Chapter 1 compensatory-education program would receive $7 billion, a $664 million increase.

The Administration proposed splitting the funds evenly between basic and concentration grants, to better target the poorest students. But the House Education and Labor Committee last week approved a compromise proposal that would more narrowly target only those funds above fiscal 1994 levels.

In the current climate of tough talk on crime, the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Program would be boosted to $560 million, from $452 million. The safe-schools bill currently pending in Congress would get $100 million, up from $20 million in 1994.

Other Programs

The Administration has proposed eliminating Chapter 2 block grants and expanding the Eisenhower Mathematics and Science Program to fund professional development in many subjects. The new program would receive $752 million under the budget, $131 million more than combined spending on the two programs in 1994.

But a compromise E.S.E.A. provision approved by a House panel last week--and endorsed by the Administration--would retain Chapter 2 as well as launch the new program.

The proposed Education Department budget also includes:

  • $118 million to eliminate the shortfall in the Pell Grant program, which stood around $2 billion when Mr. Clinton took office. Officials said appropriations in past years, coupled with an overestimate of the number of eligible applicants in fiscal 1994, have closed the gap.

With a $6.4 billion request for Pell Grants, the department would raise the maximum grant award to $2,400, from $2,300.

  • $50 million for a new educational-technology initiative.
  • An overall decrease for vocational education, which would receive $1.1 billion, although some programs would receive increases.
  • $3.3 billion for special-education programs, about $200 million more than in fiscal 1994.
  • A cut for impact aid, from $798 million to $750 million. However, a House panel last week rejected the Administation's proposal to drastically pare the program.
  • A $35 million increase for education research, to $191 million, including a $15 million hike for the National Center for Education Statistics and a $10 million increase for the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

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