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Miller Confident Education Funding Will Be Restored in Stimulus

House Education and Labor Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) said Wednesday he’s “cautiously optimistic” that money will be restored for school construction funding in the final version of the stimulus package after major efforts were made overnight to lobby the three Republican Senators on the issue.

“I have been talking to them about the cuts, and I think they understand some of these cuts are terribly misguided,” Miller said at the 1 p.m. press conference.

The overall package has been tentatively set at $789.5 billion, but changes were still being made in advance of the 3 p.m. formal conference committee meeting.

Miller, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) closest ally, said any school construction funding would only go to renovations, not to build new schools, and would be distributed using the Title I formula that targets poor areas.

Miller said he was worried the three Republican Senate supporters of the stimulus package would draw a line in the sand, but said they “seem to be very open” to making changes.

The House is also trying to include language that would limit the ability of states to divert their own education funding to other uses, Miller said.

Miller spoke at a press conference that also featured New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has been trying to juggle a massive budget deficit without laying off thousands of teachers.

Miller called the Senate’s decision to cut $20 billion in funding for schools and university construction “indefensible,” because it would create more than 300,000 jobs and yield long-term benefits as well.

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