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Letter to Congressional Leaders on Proposed Education Legislation

April 20, 1998

Dear Mr. Leader:

As you consider H.R. 2646 this week, you will have the opportunity to vote for the first time on a version of my proposal to help build and modernize more than 5,000 schools across America. I am writing to ask for your support in this important effort and for your opposition to the expanded Education IRAs in the bill.

Never before have the education infrastructure needs of the Nation been so great. In order to accommodate record enrollments, move to smaller class sizes, repair aging buildings, take advantage of new technologies, and better educate children with disabilities, States and localities are faced with unprecedented construction and renovation needs. The Federal Government helps build roads, bridges, and other infrastructure projects, but none of that will matter much if we let the education infrastructure come crumbling down on our children. We must be part of the solution.

I understand that Senator Moseley-Braun will offer an amendment that would replace the IRA provisions with a proposal to allow communities to issue nearly $22 billion in bonds for modernizing public schools. Because bond purchasers would receive interest payments through a Federal tax credit, communities' costs would be reduced by one-third or more. A vote for the amendment is a vote for safer, state-of-the-art schools that will open doors to the future for our children.

The IRA provisions, which provide tax benefits for elementary and secondary education expenses, are both bad education policy and bad tax policy. Instead of targeting limited Federal resources to build stronger public schools, this proposal would divert needed resources from public schools. In addition, the expanded IRAs provide little financial assistance to average families, disproportionately benefiting the highest-income taxpayers. For these reasons, and because of other potential amendments that may be adopted, I would veto this bill.

Our children deserve schools they can be proud of. I urge you to help our schools provide a learning environment that will prepare our children for the challenges of tomorrow by supporting the Moseley-Braun amendment, and opposing the expanded Education IRAs.



NOTE: Identical letters were sent to Trent Lott, majority leader, and Thomas A. Daschle, minority leader, United States Senate. An original was not available for verification of the content of this letter.

William J. Clinton, Letter to Congressional Leaders on Proposed Education Legislation Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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