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Public Statements

Department of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


DEPARTMENTS OF LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, AND EDUCATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2006 -- (House of Representatives - June 24, 2005)

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Mrs. WILSON of New Mexico. Mr. Chairman, the bill would decrease funding for disadvantaged children in low income schools by $115.2 million from FY 2005 levels. The bill also included $258.5 million less for the Bureau of Health Professions in the Health Resources and Services Administration that administers important health professions training, scholarship, and loan repayment programs, including programs encouraging diversity in the health workforce. The legislation included $84.6 million less for rural health programs than was provided in FY 2005. Because I believe this bill would have inadequately funded important education and health programs, I would have voted against the legislation.

Mr. MOORE of Kansas. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in opposition to the funding levels in H.R. 3010, the FY 2006 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Act, for the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and Title VII Health Professionals programs.

I voted for NCLB because I believe in increased accountability for our nation's public schools to ensure that the promise of a high-quality public education can be realized for each student in our nation. Before the vote on NCLB, I heard reservations from local educators and my constituents that NCLB not become another unfunded mandate like IDEA for special education. When Congress approved and the President signed NCLB, however, I believed that the federal government would provide the promised funding to enact these reforms.

Since 2002, Congress and the Administration have not fully funded NCLB. In H.R. 3010, Congress and the Administration cut NCLB overall funding by $806 million (3.3 percent) below the current level. Under this bill, the NCLB funding shortfall will be $13.2 billion for FY 2006 and over $40 billion since the law's enactment.

In addition, H.R. 3010 cuts the $603 million increase the Administration proposed for Title I to help low-income children improve their reading and math skills to only an $100 million increase. The Administration's request was already inadequate, but these additional cuts put Title I funding $9.9 billion under what is promised under NCLB for FY 2006.

Congress and the Administration have not fully funded IDEA, a program that helps local schools and school districts pay for the costs of providing educational services to special needs children that are mandated by federal law. The federal government has never provided 40 percent of the costs it initially promised when it enacted this important law. H.R. 3010 provides $3.9 billion less than Congress promised in the IDEA Improvement Act of 2004. In addition, this bill even cuts the $508 million increase proposed by the Administration to only $150 million. Under this bill, the federal share of special education costs will actually drop from 18.6 percent to 18.1 percent next year.

In the 2004-2005 school year, 10 states and 7,194 school districts saw cuts in Title I funding, including my state of Kansas. For the 2005-2006 school year, Kansas along with nine other states will again receive less Title I funding. For my home state of Kansas, the combined funding shortfall for NCLB and IDEA for FY 2006 is $240 million, which is shifting the burden of meeting these new requirements back to Kansas taxpayers. With the deadline of expanding assessment to grades 3 through 8 scheduled for the 2005-2006 school year and more districts being identified under Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), Congress and the Administration are not keeping pace with increasing demands at the local level.

The federal government must provide our school with the resources and tools necessary to help them meet the new standards imposed by NCLB. It is simply a matter of fairness and common sense. This is why I have introduced H.R. 2694, the Keeping our Promises to America's Children (KPAC) Act of 2005. This legislation would suspend implementation of NCLB until the law is fully funded.

I would also like to express my concerns about the cuts to Title VII Health Professions programs included in H.R. 3010. The elimination of the programs will have an immediate impact on the training and recruitment of health professions students and the educational opportunities developed and supported by Title VII.

Title VII programs are unique in that they are the only federal investment in interdisciplinary training, which is vitally important, as care is often provided in several different settings.

The programs are also designed to enhance minority representation in the health care workforce and reduce shortages of health professionals in underserved areas, such as inner cities and the many rural regions throughout the country. Community Health Centers and the National Health Service Corps, for example, rely on graduates of Title VII programs to fill their ranks.

Congress talks a lot about values. I think a true measure of values is not what people say, but where Congress decides to spend our money or make budget cuts. Funding for these important programs must be restored in the final FY 2006 Labor-HHS bill. These cuts account for almost $6 million in Kansas and $5 million for the K.U. Medical Center.

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