House Approves $1.7 Billion In Cuts to 1995 Education Programs

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A House appropriations panel approved a bill last week that would eliminate 43 education programs and reduce spending in more than a dozen others--including Title I and Goals 2000--to produce $1.7 billion in savings in this fiscal year.

Over all, $5.9 billion in education, labor, health, and related spending that had been approved for fiscal 1995 would be eliminated under the bill, which is as yet unnumbered.

Should the cuts survive intact--and it remains unclear how receptive the Senate will be to such cuts--1995 funding for Education Department programs would fall to $25.8 billion, about $800 million less than the fiscal 1994 figure of $26.6 billion.

Most federal K-12 programs are forward-funded, meaning that money appropriated for a particular fiscal year is spent relatively late in the year. This makes them particularly vulnerable to such rescissions.

Rep. John Porter, R-Ill., who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, which approved the bill on a party-line vote, said some programs were killed because they were duplicative or had served their purpose. Many had been targeted for elimination by the Clinton Administration last year.

Programs that would suffer reductions, Mr. Porter said, are contributing to reducing the federal budget deficit. "All programs must do something to bring spending under control," he said.

But Democrats bristled at what they considered arbitrary cuts in programs designed to help the poor, the unemployed, the elderly, and children. They suggested that the rescissions amounted to nothing more than a down payment on the $200 billion tax cut proposed by House Republicans in their "Contract With America."

"I think this process is pitiful, to be kind," said Rep. David R. Obey, D-Wis., who is the subcommittee's ranking Democrat.

Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley said in a statement that the subcommittee's actions "break faith with America's children."

Title I, Goals 2000

Among the programs targeted by the subcommittee are:

  • The Title I compensatory-education program, which would lose $105 million under the bill. Congress approved a $302 million increase in local grants for 1995 that brought the total appropriation to $6.7 billion.

    Mr. Porter had originally slated the Head Start preschool program to absorb the $105 million rescission. But the subcommittee approved an amendment by Rep. Frank Riggs, R-Calif., to restore the money to Head Start at the expense of Title I.

  • The Goals 2000: Educate America Act grant program, which would lose $142 million, one-half of its 1995 increase of $284 million. The grants, which help pay for reforms in states and school districts that agree to set high academic standards, were funded at $372 million in this fiscal year, and President Clinton requested $694 million for fiscal 1996. Another $21.5 million earmarked for national programs under Goals 2000 would be excised by the subcommittee's bill.
  • The Safe and Drug-Free Schools program, which would be eliminated. Congress approved $482 million for this program in 1995, and the President requested $500 million for 1996.
  • The Eisenhower Professional Development program, which would lose $60 million of its 1995 appropriation of $320 million.
  • A new school-technology program, which would be eliminated.
  • The summer youth-jobs program, which would also be killed. Over all, the bill would cut more than $2 billion that had been appropriated for youth job training, including $12.5 million from the School-to-Work Opportunities Act.
  • The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which would absorb a reduction of $47 million in 1995 and $94 million the next fiscal year. The C.P.B. received $286 million this fiscal year.

The House also approved a separate fiscal 1995 rescission bill last week that would eliminate $100 million for school repairs and renovations and $200 million for job training. HR 845, which was approved by a vote of 262 to 165, is intended to pay for emergency increases in defense spending.

More To Come?

The bill approved last week by the subcommittee is part of a larger effort by House Republicans to shrink the federal government, and it will be combined with other rescission bills into one larger bill that will come before the full Appropriations Committee as early as this week.

In addition to the cuts approved by the education panel, appropriators on other subcommittees voted to rescind some funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children; the Corporation for National and Community Service; the National Endowment for the Humanities; and the National Endowment for the Arts.

And the reductions represent only an opening salvo; Republicans have pledged to make further cuts in their spending bills for fiscal 1996, which starts Oct. 1.

Edward R. Kealy, the executive director of the Committee for Education Funding, a lobbying group representing education organizations, said the subcommittee's action could be the first in a series of setbacks for education spending.

Including cuts to the popular Title I program in a rescission bill is especially significant, he said, calling it "a clear sign that the mainline programs are very vulnerable."

But Allyson M. Tucker, the director of the Heritage Foundation's Center for Educational Law and Policy, praised the subcommittee. "It's a step in the right direction," she said. "It shows they're serious about this stuff."

Highlights of Proposed FY 1995 Rescissions

  • A total of $1.7 billion from the Education Department, including proposals to terminate 43 programs.
  • $186 million from school-reform programs, including $142 million appropriated for state grants under the Goals 2000: Educate America Act.
  • $621 million from school-improvement programs; $481.9 million would come from terminating the Safe and Drug-Free Schools program.
  • $105 million from the Title I compensatory education program.
  • $1.70 billion from the Health and Human Services Department, including
  • $10 million from the Healthy Start infant-mortality initiative.
  • $2.14 billion from the Labor Department, mostly in job-training programs;
  • $1.73 billion would be saved by eliminating summer-jobs programs for adolescents.

SOURCE: House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.

Vol. 14, Issue 23

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