CHN: Bill Funding Departments of Labor, HHS, and Education Moves in House

A bill setting fiscal year 2006 spending levels for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education was approved by the House Appropriations Committee on June 16. The full house may consider the bill next week.
The bill authorizes $142.5 billion in discretionary spending (funding that must be appropriated each year) for fiscal year 2006, a decline of $164 million (or 0.1 percent) from last year’s level. The President requested even less funding in his budget ($141.5). The total cost of the bill equals $602 billion, when mandatory programs such as Medicaid and Medicare are added in.

The complete details of the full appropriations mark-up was not available at press time, but to see how the subcommittee funded each program, click here :

The committee cut some human needs programs:

•  The Community Services Block Grant was slashed in half, from $636.8 million to $320 million.

•  While the Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) formula grant grew by $100 million to $1.984 billion, the subcommittee did not provide any emergency funding (which was $297 million last year.) Therefore the overall level for LIHEAP dropped by $197.6 million.

•  Adult training funding under the Workforce Investment Act was cut $30 million from last year; youth training was cut $36.2 million.

•  Dislocated Worker Assistance was cut $70 million.

•  Job Corps was cut $9.8 million.

•  The Maternal and Child Health Block Grant was cut $23.9 million.

•  Healthy Start was cut $4.7 million.

•  Funding for mental health programs dropped by $21 million.

•  Substance abuse treatment programs were cut $12.9 million.

•  Substance abuse prevention programs were cut $1.9 million.

•  The $7 million Community Food and Nutrition program was eliminated by the House subcommittee.

Other programs were funded at the same level as last year. Many of these programs have received the same level of funding for several years, and inflation has eroded their value:

•  The Child Care and Development Block Grant (discretionary portion) was level-funded at $2.082 billion. Between 2002 and 2005, while the funding stayed constant, inflation eroded almost 8 percent of the value of the discretionary portion of the block grant.

•  Most child abuse programs were level-funded, or close to level-funded, including child abuse state grants , discretionary grants and community based child abuse prevention .

•  Child welfare services received the same amount of funding as last year, $289.6 million, as did the child welfare training program.

•  The discretionary portion of the Promoting Safe and Stable Families program received just a $414,000 increase.

•  Reading First grants were level-funded at $1 billion.

•  Basic state grants for vocational education was level-funded at $1.194 billion, although the committee eliminated a $4.8 million tech-prep demonstration project.

Some human needs programs received small increases:

•  Title I funding for low-income students grew by $100 million – an increase that is considerably lower than increases in past years. Total funding now stands at $12.8 billion, far below the level promised in the No Child Left Behind Act school reform act.

•  IDEA state grants received a $150 million increase to $10.7 billion, a smaller increase than the program received in previous years and far below the amount promised to states when IDEA was originally created.

•  Funding for community health centers grew by $100 million.

•  Independent living training vouchers for youth aging out of foster care received a $3 million increase, but this was $10 million below the President’s request.

•  Head Start received a $55.8 million increase, but advocates say all of this new money will be directed to a pilot program.

•  Nutrition programs for seniors (such as Meals on Wheels) received a $7.1 million increase.

The Senate will start its work on the Labor-HHS-Education bill after the Independence Day recess, which runs July 1 through July 11. The Senate’s total discretionary level for the bill, $141.344 billion, is slightly lower than the House amount. See the Senate Appropriations Committee’s allocations to all its subcommittees (called the 302(b) allocations) here.

The House 302(b) allocations are here.

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