Civil fights advocates are praising the recent 1999 budget
agreement for providing federal agencies, including the U.S. Education
Department (ED), with more funds to fight discrimination.
According to Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership
Conference of Civil Rights in Washington, D.C., the $62 million
increase is the largest in two decades.
“[The new budget] will help prevent discrimination before it occurs and punish those who do discriminate,” he said.
Federal civil fights funding will increase from $516 million to
$578 million for the federal fiscal year that began October 1. Included
in that figure is a $4.5 million increase for ED, from $61.5 million to
The largest single increase, $37 million, will go to the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission. This increase includes a 20 percent
gain for EEOC’s mediation service that helps resolve discrimination
claims, Henderson said.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development also will get an
extra $10 million to fight housing discrimination. And the U.S. Justice
Department’s civil rights office will receive $67 million for fiscal
year 1999, up $2 million from previous funding.
“Recently, federal agencies and offices responsible for enforcement
of the nation’s civil fights laws have not been adequately funded,”
said Henderson, who asserts that the new budget “sends a strong message
of the nation’s continuing commitment to ensuring equal opportunity.”
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