NATIONAL SCIENCE TEACHERS ASSOCIATION ***LEGISLATIVE UPDATE*** October 10, 1998
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) E-mail: JBECKER@SIU.EDU