Education Spending Could Get a Boost
Despite turning most of their attention to defense and intelligence issues after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, House and Senate lawmakers soon are expected to consider plans that would increase federal education spending.
Education spending could get a boost of about 13 percent, a rate much higher than earlier estimates, says Edward Kealy, executive director of the Washington-based Committee for Education Funding. Details are still being worked out, but advocates say the picture has improved since just after Sept. 11, when some lawmakers — seeking to focus all their attention on defense — wanted to dispense with annual spending bills in favor of small inflation increases for most programs.
Congress’ decision to keep working on fiscal 2002 budget bills is a good one for education, Kealy says. “There is bipartisan support for a significant increase,” he added.
But lawmakers also want to avoid partisanship and wrap up discussions quickly, possibly just after the start of the government’s new fiscal year Oct. 1. “Getting through the budget process means they can get on to other matters,” says Corye Barbour, legislative director for the United States Student Association.
Congress also has not given up hope of concluding negotiations on a K-12 reform bill, including provisions that will affect colleges’ teacher-training programs. The House and Senate postponed a negotiating session but plan to return to work soon, aides say.
One other sliver of good news for educators is that the $40 billion Congress gave President Bush for military preparedness and cleanup efforts in New York and Washington has no direct bearing on 2002 spending deliberations. Congress allocated these funds as emergency spending, Kealy says, which means they do not factor into the calculations of annual budgets and spending limits.
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