« PreviousContinue »
DEPARTMENTS OF LABOR, HEALTH
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, AND EDUCATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS FOR FISCAL YEAR 1992
TUESDAY, APRIL 16, 1991
Washington, DC. The subcommittee met at 9:36 a.m., in room SD,192, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Hon. Tom Harkin (chairman) presiding.
Present: Senators Harkin, Specter, and Gorton.
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR THOMAS HARKIN
Senator HARKIN. This subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies will come to order. Today, the subcommittee will begin hearing testimony of approximately 150 congressional and public witnesses, and we have scheduled six special sessions to hear this testimony:
This year, the committee had requests from 307 individuals and public organizations to testify before this subcommittee. Unfortunately, because of the limitations of time, we have been able to schedule only the first 150 such individuals and organizations who wrote to us. I regret that we cannot hear everyone, but the committee has made it known to those who did not make the cutoff, we will be pleased to publish their statements in the hearing record.
In order to keep on schedule, we will need to use this light system here, which will give each witness 3 minutes to summarize the key points of their statement. I would request each witness to please attempt to summarize it as shortly as possible. This will give us some time, perhaps, to ask a few questions and to insure that everyone gets a fair and equal chance.
Today, we will hear testimony on a wide range of subjects, including education, family planning, nurse training, community health centers, funding for several programs of interest to the elderly, biomedical research, AIDS, and the Social Security Administration, just to mention a few. I have noticed that a number of the statements suggest increases of well over $1 billion, and well over 50 percent increases for just a handful of programs.
Needless to say, the Budget Enforcement Act has given us all a very difficult situation this year. And from that, we expect a growth of about 4 to 5 percent over the 1991 level in total for the subcommittee. While I am sure that we will agree on the importance of the several programs that we will discuss this morning, the amount of funding increases that we will be able to provide will, by necessity, be limited. I look forward to the advice of each one of you in making the many difficult decisions that face this subcommittee this year. STATEMENT OF HON. JAMES EXON, U.S. SENATOR FROM NEBRASKA
Senator HARKIN. The first witness this morning is my distinguished colleague and good friend and neighbor to the west, the Honorable Senator Jim Exon from Nebraska.
Welcome to the subcommittee, Senator. Your statement will be made a part of the record in its entirety. And please proceed as you so desire.
Senator Exon. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. Let me also ask unanimous consent that a prepared statement by my colleague, Senator Kerrey from Nebraska be inserted in the record following my remarks. And I will supply that to the clerk. Senator HARKIN. Without objection.
Senator Exon. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, thank you very much for the opportunity to offer my strong support for the several programs which will come before the jurisdiction of this subcommittee. And we appreciate the fact that the chairman, particularly, has a very basic understanding of all these, and we appreciate your support in the past.
Nebraska has a vital interest in nearly all of the categories of impact aid. Within the section 3 program, there are 8 schools which fall under the “a” payments and 13 schools benefiting from the “b” payments. Nebraska's impact aid payments also include children who live in low-income housing, and section 2 students eligible due to Federal projects which take productive, taxable land out of the local tax base.
Nebraska is the home to three Indian tribes, the Winnebago, the Omaha, and the Santee. These schools rely heavily on impact aid for over one-half of their operating budget. Mr. Chairman, impact aid is of basic importance to these schools and should be fully funded. Even more important, it is the fundamental obligation of the Federal Government. This should not be considered a discretionary program in the plain English sense of the word. It is mandatory, rather. The administration's recommendations have not even taken into consideration inflationary increases. Per pupil expenditures have increased an average of 7 percent over the past 6 years. Impact aid funding increases have averaged less than 3 percent and school districts are falling further and further behind. This funding is basic to these schools and provides essential items such as books, teachers' salaries, desks, and equipment. The funding which is received by these schools does not make them able to offer a frills included education. Rather, it provides them with basic resources to just stay in business.
Local communities are finding it more and more difficult to educate students from revenues collected from local taxpayers. We cannot expect those already overburdened local governments to subsidize the bill for federally connected children.
As you are aware, Mr. Chairman, the administration has proposed placing impact aid in block grant funding in one package, and I suggest that this makes no sense. Impact aid funding does not pass through the State education departments. It goes directly to the schools. Adding another layer of bureaucracy will not make the system more efficient. In the agreement reached by the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures on block grant fundings, they chose to exclude impact aid.
The responsibility of taking care of federally impacted students is that of the Federal Government, and it must accept this responsibility. We have heard from the administration how important education is to our future generations, yet we have not seen the same commitment in funding the programs for which it is directly responsible.
Mr. Chairman, I am also very supportive of the increased funding for the State Student Incentive Grant (SSIG] Program and the Star Schools Program. The President has once again zeroed out the SSIG Program, but it requested funding for star schools programs at $10 million. The SSIG Program has proven invaluable for both students and schools. At a time when the Secretary of Education has put reform of the Student Loan Program at the forefront of his agenda, we must not further reduce the amount of grants that we make to students.
It is becoming more and more difficult for the middle-income American to send his child to school. Lower-income students now receive loans which they cannot repay, instead of grants, and middle-income students cannot qualify for loans which they would be much more likely to repay. We must reverse the trend of student loans to those least able to repay, and once again award grants to students from the lower income families. The SSIG Program is cost effective and has been very successful. It is matched by States dollar for dollar, and that certainly means more bang. for the buck, educationwise. Just what we need, I suggest. I believe the SSIG Program is worth of funding at the highest
There are other programs that I have included that I ask for your support, and I ask that the full copy of my statement be printed in the record as if delivered. And I would be glad to respond, if I can, recognizing the time constraints, to any questions that you might have, Mr. Chairman.
[The statements follow:)
STATEMENT OF SENATOR JIM EXON Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to offer my strong support for several programs which will come before the jurisdiction of this subcommittee.
Nebraska has a vital interest in nearly all categories of Impact Aid. Within the Section 3 program there are 10 schools which fall under the “A” payments, and 13 schools benefiting from “B” payments. Nebraska Impact Aid payments also include children who live in low-income housing and Section 2 students eligible due to federal projects which takes productive, taxable land out of the local tax base. Ne.