Budget Negotiations Continue
President Clinton was urging Congress to make education a top priority in this year's budget, as lawmakers last week attempted to negotiate a compromise plan for education funding.
Last Thursday, House and Senate appropriators were still negotiating with the White House on ways to quickly pass the remaining fiscal 2000 appropriations bills, including the bill that covers the departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor.
Appropriators and Clinton administration officials met Oct. 19. Shortly afterward, congressional negotiators offered to put $35.2 billion in discretionary education funding in the budget, a 1.5 percent increase from Mr. Clinton's proposed $34.7 billion budget plan and a 5 percent increase over last year's $33.5 billion allotment. The two sides continued to disagree on how specifically to reallocate funding in order to avoid breaking tight spending caps negotiated by Congress and the president in 1997 and reaffirmed earlier this year.
Separately last week, Congress passed a continuing resolution to keep funding at fiscal 1999 levels until Oct. 29. The new fiscal year began Oct. 1.
In addition to spending levels, several other issues remained to be resolved, including legislative language on Title I accountability, after-school programs, and an initiative to hire new teachers. Mr. Clinton has threatened to veto any bill that rewrites his $1.2 billion plan for hiring 100,000 teachers and reducing class sizes in the early grades. Proposals in the House and the Senate, however, would restructure the program to allow the money to be spent in a greater variety of areas.
--Joetta L. Sack
Vol. 19, Issue 9, Page 31