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Topic: NSTA Legislative Update
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
NSTA Legislative Update
Posted: Oct 12, 1998 9:49 PM
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October 10, 1998

Today's Topics:

1. Block Grant Bill Dead---For Now
2. Congress Still Negotiating Ed Appropriations


Dollars to the Classroom Act Appears Dead---For Now

With time running out on this session of Congress and
the remaining time focused largely on budget
negotiations, the Dollars to the Classroom Act (the
so-called Pitts block grant bill) appears dead for now.

Although the House passed the bill that sought to
block grant 31 education programs, including the
Eisenhower Professional Development Program, the bill
has not been scheduled for debate in the Senate.

As indicated in the last NSTA Legislative Update, the
next Congress is certain to debate whether or not to
block grant federal education programs during the
upcoming mandatory reauthorization of the Elementary
and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Block granting
federal programs would spell the end of programs
targeted for specific purposes, such as professional
development. Block grant funds would flow directly to
states with virtually no strings attached.

Ed Appropriations Bill Still in Negotiation

The future of the FY 1999 federal education budget (and
in it funding for the Eisenhower Professional
Development Program) is still undecided despite the
fact the fiscal year began October 1. The Associated
Press reported late this morning that Congress is not
likely to reach a budget agreement until the middle of
this week. A series of what are called continuing
resolutions (CR) passed by Congress and signed by the
President are keeping the government running until an
agreement is reached.

The Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education
Appropriations bill will in all likelihood be rolled
with four other federal appropriations bills into what
is called an Omnibus Appropriations bill. This bill
would specify the allocation of $500 billion, or almost
one-third of the total federal budget.

The future of Eisenhower funding is still uncertain
because the House and Senate versions of the bill that
were passed by committee, but never debated on the
floor, differ:

--- The Senate version funds the Eisenhower program at
its current level, $335 million

--- The House version funds Eisenhower at $285
million and effectively block grants Eisenhower and
Goals 2000 funds with Title VI.

One possibility is that the negotiators will block
grant only Goals 2000 and Title VI, leaving Eisenhower
only for professional development and the funding will
be at the higher Senate level.

A number of specific but very diverse issues are
proving to be sticking points in the large-scale budget
negotiations between Congress and the White House.
These include President Clinton's school construction
and teacher hiring initiatives, the fate of national
testing, the use of statistical sampling in the year
2000 census, abortion and contraceptive restrictions,
and new rules on organ transplants. Hundreds of other
so-called smaller issues are also being negotiated,
largely by Congressional staffers.

When the final budget bill is passed, we will send out
the next update, which should also include information
on other bills that will be signed into law.

Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618)453-4244
Phone: (618)453-4241 (office)

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