Lawmakers, Colleges Make Some Funding Gains
While still working on the federal education budget, Congress is making headway on a few budget bills of importance to educators and minority-serving colleges specifically.President Clinton signed a U.S. Department of Agriculture budget bill for 2001 with funding for historically Black colleges and universities. Under the agreement, the agency would provide $32.6 million to Black colleges recognized by federal law back in 1890 as having land-grant status. The 1890 list includes many, but not all, HBCUs. Funding would come under the USDA’s Extension Service, which supports agriculture education programs and land-grant colleges.In approving the bill, Congress also made special mention of Tuskegee University under those institutions eligible for funds. Congress also stated that at least $1 million of the funding must go to historically Black West Virginia State College.Another provision of the bill includes $9.5 million in “capacity-building” grants for HBCUs. Elsewhere, the bill also provides $3.5 million in agriculture education grants to Hispanic-serving institutions, or those colleges and universities where enrollment is at least 25 percent Latino.Shortly after congressional passage, President Clinton signed the agriculture bill into law.Federal funding for arts and humanities, long the target of conservatives, also won small funding gains under another budget bill the president signed in October.This bill would provide $105 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, an increase of $7 million from the 2000 budget. The increase is the first since Republicans took control of Congress in 1995 with a goal to reduce arts funding. The NEA had received as much as $176 million before Republicans had the leadership role on Capitol Hill.The National Endowment for the Humanities will get a $5 million increase, to $120 million. It represents the second consecutive increase for the NEH, though the endowment had much higher funding in the early 1990s. Both provisions are part of a bill to fund the U.S. Department of the Interior for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.
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