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We just passed a $25 billion-I am not sure whether it was called "tax rebate" or "tax something"-bill and 15 minutes before we approved it 194 people voted to recommit it to committee. This indicates to me that either they did not understand it or they had reservations about it or something 15 minutes later it was different.
Mr. FORD. Mr. Goodling, I might just mention that what happened on this bill, this is part of H.R. 69, one night the conferees had started at 9 the previous day and conferred on the bill throughout the night until 4 the following morning. There were some little issues like busing and some others that stirred up something more than common passion. So by the time we got to this level we were hardly even talking to each other, let alone hearing what other people were saying.
Mr. GOODLING. I am sure that we have problems with this particular program. Times have changed since it originally began. One of the biggest problems of course happens to be this particular area right around here with the highest income per capita located all around Washington, D.C.
They have very fine homes, a very good tax base on those homes, et cetera, et cetera.
They recover an awful lot of money from this program. There are many people throughout the country that feel this is totally wrong. One of the other problems I have learned down here rather quickly is that we like to keep things as they are and then just add to the top. I am finding that the older you get the more inclined you are to be opposed to change, I suppose, more suspect and more suspicious.
One of the problems of course has also been that the public housing entitlemnt has always been at the very bottom. The Appropriations Committee has never gone through and offered any money in that
So most people will stand to lose with the present bill. I have figures to indicate that there are 11 States for instance-including Congressman Ford's own State and Congressman Goodling's State and Congressman Zeferetti's State and so on-that are going to gain considerably when you think in terms of the public housing entitlement. They are also big States that have a lot of Congressmen too. I might
I just call this to your attention to show you that there are several sides, of course, to the coin.
My question I think would be, do we really need to change the law? Or should we insist that the current law is carried out to the letter and clear up the fear of the unknown?
From both of your testimonies it appeared to me that the fear of the unknown was one of the biggest problems that you were having with the present bill.
Dr. FISH. Yes. I think I have to speak in terms of the stability of school districts. We talk about Montgomery County, Md. The gentleman behind me is from Montgomery County, Ala. There is Phenix City, Ga. I don't believe Portsmouth, N.H., is a rich community. I know Phenix City, Ga., is not.
But I know that Portsmouth loses from a $1,600,000 level under the old law to a $1,185,000 level. It is a loss of $500,000.
We have heard again and again of this immediate area. But this country only has one national capital. This change in the law is starting to smoke out these problems.
Frankly, impact aid has been in existence for 20 years. It has become an integral part of school system finance. Yes; there probably are needs for reform in the law. There are problems. We are not disputing that here.
But we simply don't want to destroy the whole school districts and in the case of these two that I mentioned probably not wealthy school districts because of the overwhelming influence and the din of the propaganda about Montgomery County.
Montgomery County has appeared in almost every piece of administration testimony along the way.
Also we see that in many school districts the impact aid is a relatively small amount of money. You have worked with school finances. You know that most of us aren't operating with a great deal of flexibility in our programs. Every time we take a budget cut we lay somebody off. It is in personnel. It is the only place we have left to go. We actually have a situation in San Diego this year and incidentally under tier 2 we would lose $850,000.
I can't see reforming the impact aid law and then wiping out San Diego.
Mr. GOODLING. But how about the gain with your public housing? Dr. FISH. We now have 612 children in public housing in San Diego. That is in comparison to 26,000 that are traditionally federally or militarily connected.
Mr. GOODLING. How about the State of California?
What is the total?
Dr. FISH. I am sorry, sir. I am not sure there are some communities where it represents a gain. Frankly, in the West generally public housing is not that major a situation. There are particular cities that have some public housing. Public housing is concentrated in the East and in the South.
That is one more comment that I would make. This is not a tradeoff in regard to the impact aid for public housing. It is a tradeoff against elimination of part C of title I, the rural and urban factor.
The eastern big cities, particularly New York City, lost in the new formula. Philadelphia lost and so on. A move was made to put the public housing into the impact aid program. It was put into a category so it would serve the low-income children.
One of our concerns about the public housing money is how it can be spent. For example in San Diego if the guidelines were to come out and say, "you must serve that particular child in the public housing project," we would have an impossible situation because we would have them scattered in small projects.
Mr. GOODLING. But your guidelines don't say that at the present time.
Dr. FISH. There are no guidelines.
Mr. GOODLING. Your guidelines in the past.
Dr. FISH. Impact aid in the past has been a general aid program. Mr. GOODLING. So I would assume that would not change.
Dr. FISH. No.
Mr. GOODLING. There may not be any guidelines.
Dr. Fish. If you say, "Well, you lose the traditional Public Law 874 funding and you gain public housing funding," the local school administrator is dropping back because he is getting designated categorical funds. It is the understanding of the Compensatory Education Office, the title I office, that if a State has a situation as I understand it in which they are going to say, "you must submit a project kind of plan," you see?
Mr. FORD. Will the gentleman yield to me?
There is a two-way change here in public housing. Public housing has been in, has been counted. But the Appropriations Committee has never given the appropriation.
So to make sure that there was an appropriation, public housing was put in a different way into the formula. But at the same time the money that they city receives by public housing doesn't go into the same pot as the money it receives from the rest of the formula.
As of today we do have the proposed guidelines. I am sure therefore you will agree they are extremely vague about trying to interpret what the conferees meant when they said it had to be used for educationally deprived children because we didn't go the next step and say it could be used like title I funds were used, for example.
So the Office of Education is not sure at this point what you would have to do to comply with that requirement, that you segregate those funds and use them only for low-income children.
Also we don't know what that does to the comparability provision of the city when they throw it into the pot because it does throw out of balance the comparability they have to establish to show that they are properly using title I in the target schools. Theoretically it throws the impact money on top of the title I money that is already being spent in a target school, if you assume that a school near a public housing development is properly a target school.
The question is, once you throw that on top, what have you done to the comparability that you have to show by the way in which you balance out the spending through all the target schools?
Mr. GOODLING. We as the Congress could say that the money could be used the same as the impact aid money has always been used. Could
Mr. FORD. Yes, we could. But that would take a change. This bill won't do that. This bill, as a matter of fact, is not to delay the public housing provision from going into effect.
I might mention you pointed out that Michigan would gain under the impact aid.
Mr. GOODLING. Excuse me. Are you saying that under the present law or the Perkins amendment?
Mr. FORD. The Perkins bill does not delay for 1 year the public housing portion.
Mr. GOODLING. But it really does, doesn't it? Because doesn't it still go to the Appropriations Committee who will say that they are not going to parcel the money out for public housing students as they have done in the past? In fact I think they have already made that
Mr. FORD. H.R. 69 is now law. Unless we do something to change specific portions of the law it will stay there. The only thing we do with regard to public housing is to take off the top of the impact money
$63 million for public housing. So they would be guaranteed their money. The other provisions about paying out public housing money would not be delayed.
Mr. GOODLING. What I am saying is, that wasn't the impression I was getting from the Appropriations Committee. I understand they are still going to eliminate the whole idea of aid.
Dr. FISH. If I could comment on that, sir, it is my impression as I understand it by hearsay and not by seeing anyone that what has come out in the subcommittee and full Committee on Appropriations was done as though the new law didn't exist at all.
It was as if they had pulled last year's wording off the shelf and simply applied some new numbers to it and put it in.
Frankly, I don't know how to say it. But the wording doesn't appear relevant to the law of this amendment to 93-380, the public housing amendment. We don't believe that what is proposed there can be done, frankly.
Mr. GOODLING. Just one further comment just to show you the different impressions and pressures we get. I have in front of me a letter that was sent to my chairman from John C. Pittinger, who happens to be the State of Pennsylvania's secretary of education. Of course, he is very upset with my chairman's proposal. He is trying to point out what that would do to the State of Pennsylvania.
So I just want to point out that it all depends on which side of the fence you are, which side of the coin you happen to be on. But he is very much opposed to the program and lists reasons which I are factual. I haven't had an opportunity to research them.
Dr. FISH. You also may not be aware that the public housing money has no provisions for administration at the State level of this program and it puts the responsibilities on him. I am sure you will hear about that.
Mr. GOODLING. I have no further questions.
Mr. FORD. On that subject of public housing I would like to point out that it is possible under the rules of the House that if the Appropriations Committee were to legislate out an appropriations bill to change the language of H.R. 69, which is 93-380, then they would have to go to the Rules Committee and get a rule waiving points of order against that language.
If they couldn't get it from the Rules Committee, then I am sure they wouldn't get the Speaker's blessing to do it if it were subject to a point of order on the floor.
I am sure the point of order would be made that it would take a legislative change to prevent the $63 million in public housing from coming off the top of whatever is appropriated for impact aid.
I think it has been very carefully structured to get around the refusal of the Appropriations Committee in the past to give the cities the public housing money.
Mr. GOODLING. May I just quote one portion here? Perhaps you can comment on it. From Secretary Pittinger, "For the $63 million figure to provide full funding Pennsylvania would have to enroll 20.3 percent of all public housing students in the entire United States. It does not do so. The $63 million figure is unrealistically low. The imbalance that would result in Pennsylvania and other States would be severe."
Mr. FORD. I am afraid that that indicates a common misconception about what the impact formula has always done with regard to public housing. It doesn't just have to be public housing. It has to be public housing that is included in a school district where a percentage of people who qualify for impact aid exceeds the 3 percent of the total population figure.
As a matter of fact I can show Mr. Pittinger the figures. Pittsburgh is one of the cities that got clobbered. The only city that appeared to make out on this thing after we did it the last time was New York City.
Subsequently New York has discovered that they picked up $71⁄2 million and it cost them $232 million in title I funds to do it.
Detroit picked up $259,000 and it loses $13 million of title I funds because of what we did to the title I formula. That was a tradeoff that took place when we made a check of the large cities.
We found that because of the relatively low percentage of students, regardless of the size in real numbers that occur in cities, the public housing figure had always been very much overrated as a factor for payment.
States have been using public housing figures to add to their population for qualifying. But most of the cities that do qualify are right at the 3-percent level.
It was my amendment back in 1966, I think, that changed the big cities from 6 to 3 percent. Prior to that time there were no big cities unless you referred to San Diego. That would be the only city of any size in the country that qualified. They are all very close to the border.
The Library of Congress did pump into their computer public housing figures. One further thing we had was a real argument between the experts at the Library of Congress and the experts in the Office of Education on how many children of school age live in public housing.
The ancient figure was based on that period of time when public housing was primarily occupied by young childbearing families on public assistance.
As time has gone by more and more public housing has become occupied by elderly people and the percentage per capita-does anybody have the figure on what they are using? They used to use 2 point something children per unit. Now it is 1 point something per unit. Mr. Husk. 1.3 per unit.
Mr. FORD. But there is a discrepancy between the Office of Education and other agencies in the Government, or there was last fall, about what the actual count is. Nobody has ever counted these children. They have always used the assumption that you have a certain percentage of children. In this case he says 1.3 for each unit of public housing. This varies, of course. That may be true in some cities and not in others. But in attempting to make their estimates, this is the way they have done it.
Once you send out the actual school survey you will know. But that has never been done.
Mr. GOODLING. It is pretty true in most of our Federal programs. Under title I, for instance, they send me a list telling me how many youngsters I had in my district according to title I.