THE WHITE HOUSE AT WORK
Wednesday, October 14, 1998
PRIORITIES FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
The budget Congress must now finalize will be the last complete budget of the 20th century. We cannot pass up this golden opportunity to invest wisely now to help all our children seize the promise of the century to come.
-- President Bill Clinton
President Clinton Is Standing With America's Families. As budget negotiations continue, President Clinton remains committed to putting progress over partisanship and supporting budget initiatives that invest in our people to help ensure America moves strongly into the 21st Century. The President is standing firm on critical investments in education, reserving the budget surplus so Social Security can be reformed and put on solid fiscal ground for the 21st Century, ensuring a fair and accurate census in 2000, and protecting our natural resources.
An Education Agenda For The 21st Century. Eight months ago, the President sent his education agenda to Congress, an agenda that demands accountability and responsibility from students, parents, teachers, and administrators -- yet Congress has not passed this legislation. The President is calling for:
- Smaller Classes With Well-Prepared Teachers. President Clinton is urging Congress to pass the Class Size Reduction and Teachers Quality Act, to provide funding over the next 7 years to help local communities hire 100,000 new teachers and reduce class size in grades 1 -3 to a national average of 18;
- Modern Schools For The 21st Century. The President is calling on Congress to pass his School Modernization Initiative, which will provide communities with interest-free bonds to help renovate, modernize, and build over 5,000 schools nationwide;
- Critical Investments In After-School Programs And Education Technology that would provide after-school opportunities for up to 500,000 students, giving them needed tutoring, academic enrichment, supervised recreation and community service opportunities in safe, drug-free environments. The President is also calling for every school to be wired to the Internet and increased technology training for teachers.
Saving Social Security First. President Clinton's three part economic strategy of fiscal discipline, investment in our people, and opening foreign markets to American goods helped turn 29 years of federal budget deficits into a budget surplus. To ensure that opportunity is extended to all, and that the economic conditions that led to this expansion continue, we must maintain our fiscal discipline, beginning with setting aside every penny of any surplus until we save Social Security The President has proposed targeted tax cuts that are fully paid for, but opposes plans to drain the surplus through broader tax cuts that are not paid for under the balanced budget.
A Fair And Accurate Census In 2000. The President has been working to ensure the most accurate census in 2000 that uses the best, most-up-to-date methods at the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars. The House passed Commerce-Justice-State appropriations bill contains severe restrictions on Census Bureau funding and caps the Bureau's funding at six months, risking a Census Bureau shutdown and seriously increasing the potential for significant disruptions to the 2000 census preparations.
Protecting The Environment And Public Health. President Clinton is fighting for new investments to curb water pollution, protect precious lands and combat global warming and against Congressional attempts to attach riders to legislation that would roll back protections already in place. The President is calling for:
- Additional funding for the President's Clean Water Action Plan, a five-year initiative to help communities and farmers clean up the 40 percent of America's surveyed waterways that are still too polluted for fishing and swimming;
- Resources to acquire and protect scores of natural and historic sites throughout the country, and to undertake maintenance and construction projects at national parks, refuges, forests, and other public lands;
- Additional support for the funding of research investments that reduce greenhouse gas pollution, save energy, and save consumers money by promoting energy efficiency and clean energy technologies;
- Congress to drop anti-environmental riders that would force overcutting of timber in national forests, cripple wildlife protection, and construct the first roads through a designated wilderness area.