Education Gets a Boost in Clinton's FY98 Budget

Article excerpt

President Clinton gave education spending a major boost in his proposed budget for fiscal year 1998. The budget, submitted to Congress February 6, also contains $136.4 million for the new Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) - the same amount that had been approved in FY97 for library programs in the Library Services and Construction Act and the Higher Education Act II-B.

The line item for library programs now appears under the "Other Independent Agencies" section along with the line item for the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The administration's budget request for IMLS is $26 million; the Institute of Museum Services received an increase to $22 million in FY97.

The overall education budget provides line items to support the new Clinton education initiatives announced over the last few months, such as the Hope scholarship tax credits, the school construction initiative, increases in Pell grants, and increases (already begun in FY97) of work-study slots to be devoted to the America Reads initiative.

In other areas of the education budget, GOALS 2000 would be increased to $620 million, a hike of $129 million from FY97. The budget would increase Educational Technology to $500 million to help meet President Clinton's goal of linking every school to the information superhighway by the year 2000.

The budget would eliminate Title VI Innovative Education Program Strategies block grants. These grants were the former Chapter 2 block grants and, according to Department of Education sources, 40% of the past funding went to school libraries for materials. However, the narrative accompanying this year's budget material claims that the "overall purpose of the program - supporting school reform - was not achieved because of the broad, vague, and overlapping nature of the activities eligible for funding." The narrative further states that "the majority of the activities supported by Chapter 2 received only a small percentage of their funding from the program and thus would be likely to continue in its absence."

Congressional roadblocks ahead?

ALA's Washington Office points out that the administration's budget increases education funding by 20%, according to the Office of Management and Budget. If the discretionary spending for education, along with the proposed mandatory spending of the school facilities infrastructure initiative and a number of tax breaks for students, is added to other education increases in Labor and Head Start, the total is around $9 billion. …