The House Budget Committee yesterday voted to restore $347 million in impact aid to local school districts which both President Carter and the committee's chairman, Robert N. Giaimo (D-Conn.), had sought to eliminate or phase out in the federal spending year which starts Oct. 1.
The committee tentatively agreed on a fiscal 1978 budget of $461.281 billion which results in a deficit of $63.1 billion. Chairman Giaimo had recommended a $62.4 billion deficit and President Carter's proposed budget recommended a deficit of $57.7 billion.
But the committee will meet again today and is expected to make some changes in the overall spending levels tentatively adopted over the past several days.
At attempt will be made to reverse the committee's Monday decision to support President Carter's bid to cut $289 million from the federal budget by killing some or all of 30 different water resource projects already under construction.
Earlier this month, the Senate overwhelmingly rejected the administration's bid to kill water projects, and the House leadership is opposed to the Carter plan as well.
House Majority Leader Jim Wright (D-Tex.) and chairman Giaimo both fought the move by Rep. Butler Derrick (D-S.C.) to cut $280 million from the budget to insure that Congress could not restore any projects cut by Carter. But Carter won a narrow 13-to-11 victory with only one committee member, Democrat Omar Burleson of Texas, not voting.
Congress is in the second year of a new process which forces it to decide overall how much it wants to spend and tax and how many money it wants to allocate to various priorities such as defense, education and income security.
The Senate Budget Committee begins deliberations later this week; a tentative fiscal 1978 budget must pass Congress by May 15, and a final, binding budget must be in place by September. The President still proposes a budget for the country, but the final decision is made by Congress.
Every President since Eisenhower has tried to end impact aid to education in school districts where the existence of a federal facility does not burden the district. This so-called Category B impact aid is highly prized by school districts because it can be spent as local officials see fit, rather than in specific programs designated by the government.
Area school districts are the biggest beneficiaries of impact aid. Giaimo, Carter and previous presidents have argued that giving money to school districts simply because a federal facility is located there is not a good way to distribute federal education funds.
A budget committee study said these payments are made to some of the wealthiest school districts in the country and that 95 per cent of the families who are counted when impact aid is melted out live "on private taxable property and contribute to local school revenues."
Giaimo prefers to redirect impact aid money to areas such as education for the handicapped.
Rep. Clair W. Burgener (R-Calif.) said that the "bottom line is that if I voted against impact aid I'd be voting either higher property taxes, lower school programs or both. I will not vote to phase it out now or ever."
By a vote of 13 to 9 the committee voted to restore impact aid to the fiscal 1978 budget.
But the committee did approve a move by Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman (D-N.Y.) to provide $200 million of spending authority for fiscal 1979 to enable Congress to develop an alternative to impact aid and which could only be used to phase out the impact aid program.
She said later in an interview that although the motion set no explicit time frame for the phaseout, five years would be the probable amount of time it would take to phase out the program.
She said alternative programs might even provide more money than impact aid but would do so with better rationale for spending the money.