Tuesday, February 6, 2007
President Bush proposed $56 billion in Education Department funding, level with his proposal for the current fiscal year but 3 percent less than what Democrats are expected to approve for this year. He also sought about $1 billion in new spending related to the landmark No Child Left Behind law.
Democrats and education groups attacked Bush's proposal. Critics said Bush's budget would slash key education programs and fall short of full funding for the federal school law.
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said cuts in inefficient programs are necessary to achieve a balanced budget. Officials also said that the plan, if approved, would mean that funding for No Child Left Behind has risen 41 percent since the law was enacted five years ago.
The budget would add about $1 billion for the education law, most of it directed toward high schools to help pay for a proposed expansion of testing and other programs. It would add $300 million for school vouchers and cut special-education grants to states, compared with the Democrats' proposal for this year.
"The cuts in this budget for students with disabilities and for young children are reprehensible and undermine the efforts of students and teachers who are working hard in classrooms across the country," Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, said in a statement.
The budget also would increase the maximum size of Pell grants for low-income college students to $4,600 from $4,050. The administration would pay for the boost by eliminating other student aid programs and cutting billions of dollars in subsidies to private companies that lend money to students.
-- Amit R. Paley