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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 18, 1999


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|                          September 18, 1999                          |
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In today's radio address, the President called on Republicans in Congress to put America's students first rather than last, and to get to work on funding the nation's education needs. The President said that amidst the uncertainty now surrounding the budget process, one thing should be made clear: Republicans should not endanger the future of our children by making untenable cuts in education. The President emphasized that Republican tax and budget plans could cause devastating cuts in key education initiatives, including efforts to reduce class size, improve teacher quality, increase accountability and keep schools safe. For the past six years the President has invested in education while reducing the deficit and then balancing the budget. He urged Congress today to continue on this path.

AMERICA'S HIGHEST PRIORITY IS THE REPUBLICAN CONGRESS' LOWEST PRIORITY. The President pointed out that Americans consistently cite education as their number-one priority. The President's balanced budget allows for investments in education and other key areas, strengthens Social Security and Medicare, and pays down the debt. However, rather than acting on the President's plan, congressional Republicans have passed a risky tax plan that could cause devastating cuts in education programs.

THE GOP BUDGET PLAN COULD FORCE DEVASTATING CUTS IN EDUCATION OF NEARLY 50% BY 2009. The Republican tax bill, and the associated interest costs, would spend the entire $1trillion non-Social Security surplus over the next 10 years. This, together with funding defense at the level requested by the President, would force an impossible choice: either make nearly 50% cuts in education programs like Head Start, Title I, Reading Excellence, special education, and Pell Grants, or divert hundreds of billions of dollars of the Social Security surpluses promised for debt reduction.

IN THE FIRST YEAR ALONE (FISCAL YEAR 2000), THE REPUBLICAN BUDGET PLAN CALLS FOR CUTS OF ABOUT 20% IN EDUCATION. With only 12 days left in the fiscal year, and confusion surrounding the majority's budget decisions, expected House Republican spending plans call for an untenable and irresponsible cut of about 20% in education programs. Administration estimates of the effects of the Republican cuts indicate that next year alone, 6,480 teachers hired under the President's class size reduction initiative could be laid off; 60,000 children could be denied access to after-school and summer school programs; 2.5 million children could lose access to crucial Title I services to help them reach high academic standards; and 229,000 students would not get the extra support they need to prepare for college through the GEAR-UP and TRIO programs.*

EDUCATION CUTS WOULD OCCUR AS STUDENT ENROLLMENT INCREASES TO RECORD LEVELS. Total school enrollment will reach a record 53.2 million students this year. The 1996-97 school year was the first year that the children of the baby boom generation broke their parent's record for school enrollment, and they have continued to enroll in record-breaking numbers every year since then. In fact, it is expected that enrollment will continue to increase every year until the year 2008. The President stated that this is no time to undermine our efforts to invest in America's young people.

*Calculations are based on the House's expected 302(b) allocations and assume straight across-the-board cuts and no protections for any programs.

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