Lee touts extra spending on education, jobs

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, points to this week’s markup by her Appropriations subcommitee of the $153.7 billion Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill as a triumph for progressives — and for her, in particular.

This is Lee’s first year on the powerful purse-strings panel — and in the majority, for that matter — and so she has had more of a say than ever before on how federal tax dollars are spent. She’s hailing the panel’s increases in funds for education, job training and violence prevention — which she said she championed — as “an investment in our future, and I am particularly proud of our successful efforts to increase funds for programs that keep kids safe and give them real alternatives to violence.”

For example, she notes, the bill provides $61.7 billion for education — $4.2 billion (7.4 %) above the current budget year — including:

  • Pell Grants: $2.0 billion (14.6 %) above 2007, the largest single increase in the bill, raising the maximum Pell grant by $390 to $4,700 and benefiting more than 5.5 million students without reducing or eliminating other student financial assistance programs, as the Administration had proposed.
  • No Child Left Behind: $2.0 billion (8.4 %) above 2007, including $1.9 billion more for Title I grants benefiting nearly 55,000 schools and fully funding reading and math instruction for an additional 161,000 low-income students, plus significant increases for teacher quality programs and after-school centers.
  • The committee also added $200 million (200 %) above the president’s 2008 proposal for safe and drug-free schools; $125 million (12.7 %) for after-school centers; $100 million (11.9 %) for youth job training; $98 million (6.3 %) for Jobcorps; and $11.4 million (4.8 %) for historically black colleges, among other things. It also proposed almost $49 million for mentoring programs and $61.5 million for school counselors, where the president had proposed spending nothing.

    Remember, though — this is only the subcommittee’s markup. This bill has yet to pass the House, be reconciled with the Senate’s plan, and be signed by the president.

    Josh Richman

    Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.