CHN: Senate Committee’s Inadequate Labor-HHS-Education Spending

Arlen Specter (R-PA) is the Chair of the Senate Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Subcommittee on Appropriations.  His subcommittee recommended the funding approved by the full Senate Appropriations Committee on July 20.  And yet, in a widely quoted statement, Senator Specter told the Committee that the underfunded appropriations bill was “what I view as really the disintegration of the appropriate federal role in health, education and worker protections.”
Specter was unhappy with his own handiwork because he had been given $2 billion less than the amount needed to prevent cuts below the FY 2005 funding levels.    The $142.8 billion recommended for  Labor-HHS-Ed FY 2007 spending in annually appropriated (“discretionary”) programs was $5 billion more than the President’s request, and about $900 million higher than the figure the House Appropriations Committee approved.  But it fell short of the $7 billion he had originally sought, along with Senator Harkin (D-IA), to avoid cuts below FY 2005 levels.  Seventy-three senators supported that level in an amendment to the Senate budget resolution.  They looked to prevent cuts below FY 2005 levels because that would have the effect of restoring or reducing a large number of cuts made in FY 2006.  Nevertheless, the wishes of this large majority were ignored and the Labor-HHS-Ed bottom line was not enough to prevent cuts.  (For a table showing House and Senate Committee recommendations for selected Labor-HHS-Ed programs, including comparisons to FYs 2005 and 2006, click here.)

Training and Employment:  The Senate Appropriations Committee provides nearly $3.46 billion for FY 2007 job training and employment services, almost $65 million less than the FY 2006 level (but nearly $16 million more than the House Committee).  Taking inflation into account, the Senate version managed to avoid cuts below FY 2005 service levels in only a few instances – for example, Job Corps is funded at $1.63 billion, slightly above the cost of providing the FY 2005 level of services.  The House only provided $1.52 billion, or a 6 percent cut below FY 2005, counting inflation.  The Senate also increased funds for Responsible Reintegration of Youthful Offenders, to $60 million, from $49.1 million in FY 2006 (up 15 percent from the inflation-adjusted FY 2005 level).  The House zeroed out this program.  The Senate Committee was harder than the House on Adult Training under the Workforce Investment Act, providing only $800 million, or a 15 percent cut below inflation-adjusted FY 2005 levels.  The House provided $854 million (9 percent below FY 2005).  Both Senate and House provided less than the FY 2006 appropriation ($864 million).  Both House and Senate whacked funding for One-Stop Career Centers.  While the House cut funding by more than half (from $81.7 million in FY 2006 down to $40 million in FY 2007), the Senate left $63 million in the one-stops.

Health:  Many health programs important to low-income people were cut below FY 2005 service levels in the Senate plan.  The Maternal and Child Health Block Grant was nearly $724 million in FY 2005 (or $763 million in inflation-adjusted dollars).  The Senate Committee kept funding at the FY 2006 level of $693 million (9 percent below FY 2005, counting inflation), even lower than the $700 million in the House bill.  The cuts which have already occurred have resulted in service reductions in clinics around the country.  The Ryan White AIDS program was increased by about $101 million over FY 2006 levels (to $2.139 billion), but it still falls 2 percent below inflation-adjusted FY 2005 levels.  The House bill was worse, cut 4 percent below FY 2005 levels.

The Senate Committee followed the lead of the President in adding funds for Community Health Centers (providing $1.93 billion, less than the $1.99 billion funded by House Appropriations, but 5 percent more than FY 2005, taking inflation into account, and above the $1.78 billion funded in FY 2006).

Children’s mental health services were funded at the same level as FY 2006 ($104 million), but 6 percent below the inflation-adjusted FY 2005 level.  Similarly, the Mental Health Performance Partnership Block Grant is down 6 percent from FY 2005 levels in both the Senate and House bills, and, at $428 million, is only slightly above FY 2006 levels – not enough to keep up with rising costs.  Substance abuse services were cut more deeply in the House recommendation, but the Senate Committee still inflicts a 22 percent cut below FY 2005 services in Treatment Programs of Regional and National Significance (it was 27 percent in the House).

Children’s Services:  Child welfare services are cut at least 6 percent below FY 2005 service levels, and in some instances much more.    Child abuse discretionary grants under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) are reduced from $31.6 million in FY 2005 ($33.3 million, adjusted for inflation) to $27 million for FY 2007 – a 17 percent reduction, counting inflation.  (The House cut 22 percent.)  The Senate bill slashed the child abuse prevention program Promoting Safe and Stable Families by 28 percent below FY 2005 service levels.  The Senate’s $75 million was less than either the House bill or the FY 2006 funding ($89.1 million).  Like the House, the Senate plan drops Mentoring Children of Prisoners down to $40 million – less than the $49.1 million in FY 2006, and 23 percent less than the FY 2005 level, taking inflation into account.  The Child Care and Development Block Grant is level-funded once again, at just over $2 billion in discretionary funds – a 6 percent cut below FY 2005, counting inflation.

Community Services:  The Social Services Block Grant reverts back to $1.7 billion in the Senate bill, the funding level at which it has been stuck for many years, except for an infusion of $550 million in FY 2006 to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.  Although many survivors have not been able to return home and are experiencing high levels of unemployment and other hardships, the extra funding has been eliminated. The Senate Committee keeps the Community Services Block Grant at the FY 2006 funding level – $630.4 million – rejecting the Administration’s proposal to zero out CSBG.  (The House version provides only $449 million.)  Low-Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) is funded at $1.98 billion, plus $181 million in contingency funds, the same as the House proposal.  An additional $1 billion funded in FY 2006 because of the spike in energy prices is eliminated, despite the continued soaring cost of energy.

Education:  Head Start is stuck at $6.79 billion, the same as in FY 2006, but 6 percent below FY 2005 service levels.  Head Start officials have estimated that this funding squeeze would require Head Start programs to serve thousands fewer children.  Elementary and secondary education for the disadvantaged (Title I) is level-funded, at $12.7 billion, or a 5 percent reduction below the inflation-adjusted FY 2005 funding.  The Senate zeroes out Even Start, a program that teaches literacy to parents and their children.  Funded at $99 million in FY 2006, it is cut in the House down to $70 million.  Funding under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the same as in FY 2006, or $10.58 billion for Part B Grants to States, and $436 million for Part C Grants to Infants and Families – both are reductions from the inflation-adjusted FY 2005 levels.

For the full Senate Appropriations Committee report language on Labor-HHS-Education for FY 2007, see

For the Coalition on Human Needs table comparing Labor-HHS-Ed Senate and House Committees to FY 2006 and FY 2005, click here.

For the Coalition on Human Needs table showing FY 2002 to FY 2006 funding trends for Labor-HHS-Ed programs, click here.

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