- The Washington Times - Monday, November 19, 2001


The nation's economic downturn is forcing states to cut billions of dollars from their education budgets, even as leading congressional Democrats push for more federal education spending.
Democrats, led by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Rep. George Miller of California, cite an expected $11.3 billion shortfall in state education budgets in fiscal year 2002. Congressional analysts compiled the figures from state budget offices. Their report will be issued today.
"The faltering economy is putting at risk the advancements that many states are making to improve the quality of their educational systems," Mr. Miller said.
Congressional negotiators are working to reconcile differences in education bills approved by the House and the Senate.
The federal government is spending about $18.4 billion this year on elementary and secondary education. The Republican-controlled House proposes to increase federal school spending to about $24 billion.
The Senate, run by Democrats, wants $33 billion.
Dave Schnittger, spokesman for Rep. John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican and chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, said the bill isn't just about money.
"To simply provide massive new funding increases without providing red-tape relief for schools and insisting on better results would be fundamentally unfair to the next generation of American children," Mr. Schnittger said.
David Shreve of the National Conference of State Legislatures said he doubts the money included in the education bill will help much.
"The problem is that the money that they have is very limited, has too many strings and has a great deal of bureaucracy," Mr. Shreve said.
He said the bill, which mandates more state testing and data reporting, would require states to spend more to maintain their federal funding.
David Griffith of the National Association of State Boards of Education said states support the Democrats' bid for money. "States are under the gun right now," he said.

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