Guest column

Congressional budget plans call for historic education cuts

education cuts by Judith Billings, Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Public schools nationwide are facing the largest federal funding reduction in history under the terms of stop-gap spending plans being advanced in Congress.
   The federal government is currently operating under a temporary spending plan that expires March 15. If the terms of the current temporary budget (known as the "continuing resolution") are continued for the rest of the federal fiscal year, education spending will decline $3.1 billion next school year.
   It would be the largest federal education spending cut ever enacted since the U.S. Department of Education was first created in 1867. Schools in Washington state would see reductions of over $23 million next year in five major programs alone.
   The U.S. House of Representatives voted last week on a revised spending plan that calls for even deeper cuts in education spending. The latest House proposal would slash education funding by $3.3 billion in the 1996 fiscal year.
   The specific reductions in the House measure would include a 50 percent cut for the Safe and Drug-Free Schools program and a 17 percent reduction in basic education aid to disadvantaged students (Title I).
   The cuts would also affect the programs for handicapped and vocational students, math and science programs, block grants, local school improvement support and a variety of other programs.