U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) voted last night in favor of the Fiscal Year 2008 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, which was approved by the full Senate today and includes funding for important projects in Tennessee.
“This legislation provides a needed boost to programs across Tennessee and that means better hospitals, schools, healthcare research and more job opportunities,” Alexander said. “In addition, this bill is a win for our nation’s public schools, with increased funding for many of the programs geared toward helping our nation keep its competitive edge.”
The bill funds the government’s major health and education programs, including federal funding for k-12 education programs. Among other provisions, the legislation provides more than $13.9 billion for Title I grants to local school districts, an increase of more than $1 billion over last year’s level, and $500 million for school improvement grants, an increase of $375 million over last year’s level.
Earlier Alexander voted for a Motion to Commit the bill to the Senate Appropriations Committee with instructions to reduce the overall spending level to match President Bush’s budget request of $596 billion. That motion failed by a vote of to 40 to 54.
“I voted to bring the cost of this bill closer to the President’s budget number,” Alexander said. “But Congress has to do its duty and needs to pass a bill in order to fund essential health and education services.”
Tennessee funding in the bill includes:
- $400,000 for LeBonheur Children’s Medical Center to provide equipment and support for the new hospital.
- $400,000 for the Memphis Bioworks Foundation to support economic development efforts and promote investment in the bioscience industry throughout the Mid-South region.
- $250,000 for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center to support the new Regional Bio-containment Laboratory.
- $100,000 for the KIPP Foundation to support the KIPP DIAMOND Academy in Memphis and KIPP Academy Nashville.
- $200,000 for the City of Memphis’ Second Chance Ready4Work Ex-Felon Program, which is a partnership between the City of Memphis, the U.S. Department of Labor, and several local organizations helps ex-felons transition back into society.
- $500,000 for Middle Tennessee State University for a comprehensive math and science teacher training program.
- $200,000 for Tennessee State University to support biomedical research programs.
- $250,000 for the James K. Polk Association for exhibit preparation at Polk Presidential Hall. Funding will be used to conserve its extensive collection of original artifacts of President Polk.
- $6 million for the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee.
- $140,000 for Hamilton County Government’s Workforce Initiative, a community partnership with Chattanooga State.
- $100,000 for the Crumley House Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center for capacity expansion. Crumly House is a non-profit organization that provides rehabilitation, vocational training, community re-entry and social activities for survivors of traumatic brain injuries.
In addition, the bill contains funding for major education initiatives including:
- $42 million for Advanced Placement instruction,
- $13.9 billion for the Title I program to help schools with a high percentage of lower income children,
- $500 million for School Improvement Grants,
- $99 million for the Teacher Incentive Fund to reward outstanding teaching,
- $12 billion for Special Education, and
- $14.4 billion for Pell Grants.