- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 31, 2002

The president will ask Congress next week to redirect $1.3 billion in funds appropriated for fiscal 2002 to an education program that gives disadvantaged students money for college.
Officials at the Office of Management and Budget will ask lawmakers to give more money to the Pell Grant program by eliminating some low-priority programs and pork projects from their fiscal 2002 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education spending bill signed into law late last year. The request will be made Monday, when the president announces his budget request for fiscal 2003.
Education Secretary Rod Paige said the president's budget request will include a funding increase for the Education Department, though it will not be as much as last year's. The Education Department's discretionary funding rose from $42.2 billion in 2001 to $48.9 billion in 2002, the largest increase of any of the federal agencies.
Defense and homeland security are expected to be the biggest winners in this year's budget request.
"I'm completely pleased with that, because I think the funding that is going to be suggested in this budget is completely appropriate for our goals," Mr. Paige said of education funding.
The Pell Grant program provides scholarships to students who are on their own or are supported by parents who make less than $40,000 annually. The program was authorized at $11.6 billion for fiscal 2002, but Congress appropriated $10.3 billion, creating a $1.3 billion shortfall, Education Department spokesman Dan Langan said.
Department officials say the projected number of students who are eligible and applying for the Pell Grant program has increased significantly.
The Office of Management and Budget will provide Congress with a list of low-priority programs and "earmarks" in the 2002 Labor, HHS and Education spending bills that could be eliminated.
Some earmarks suggested for elimination include $200,000 for a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame music program in Ohio and $273,000 for a Missouri program aimed at combating Goth culture among youth characterized typically by the wearing of black clothing, chains and multiple piercings and popularized by acts like Marilyn Manson.
Deputy Secretary of Education William Hansen said the department feels disadvantaged students trying to go to college "deserve the direct assistance right now more than these lower-priority activities."
The president has announced his budget request will include a $1 billion increase for Title 1, the main federal education program aimed at helping poor students. That was on top of the 18 percent funding boost the program received in last year's budget.
Mr. Paige said funding increases will go "up and down the education pipeline" for poor, disadvantaged students from pre-kindergarten to college level.
Mr. Bush also will seek a $1 billion increase for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which provides states with money for special education. This will bring the program's funding to $8.5 billion, its highest ever, Education Department officials said.
The budget request will include a $100 million increase for Mr. Bush's new Reading First initiative, bringing total funding for that program to $1 billion.
Mr. Bush will ask for more than $350 million to strengthen Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Historically Black Graduate Institutions (HBGIs) and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) an increase of more than $12 million over current levels.
Congressional Democrats complain that the funding levels are not adequate. Asked last week about the president's proposed $1 billion increase for Title 1, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, said Congress "is going to have to fund Title 1 more effectively."
Democrats say states need significantly more money to meet the new testing requirements and other changes required by the education overhaul law, signed by the president earlier this month.

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