WASHINGTON - More than half the 65 federal programs that President Bush wants to kill next year are related to education, a move that could further inflame Democratic detractors who for the past year have been questioning his commitment to education.
Bush proposed eliminating the programs yesterday as he sent Congress his budget plan for fiscal 2005, which begins in October.
The White House said that killing the 65 programs would save a projected $4.9 billion, a small amount compared to this year's record $521 billion deficit.
It is far from clear, however, that Congress will go along with Bush's blueprint. The president has tried to kill some of the projects before, but Congress has kept funding them.
Of the 65 programs targeted this time around, 38 are in the Department of Education, according to the president's budget document. They account for $1.4 billion in projected savings.
Overall, the president is seeking $57.3 billion for the Department of Education, which many previous Republican administrations and GOP-controlled Congresses have sought to eliminate altogether. That amount represents a $1.7 billion increase, or 3 percent, over the fiscal year 2004 level.
Although White House Budget Director Joshua Bolten announced at a briefing yesterday that Bush wanted to terminate the 65 programs, his office declined to release a detailed list, leaving activists for education, housing and labor programs scrambling to learn the fate of their favorite endeavors.
Bolten said 63 other "major" programs faced significant spending reductions.
The projects Bush would eliminate include a $246 million effort to improve early childhood education in low-income neighborhoods and a $174 million program to foster learning in large high schools.
Also targeted are programs that attempt to stop students from dropping out, to help gifted and talented students and to promote arts in education.
A White House spokesman said that many of the programs were "well-meaning," but also duplicative or no longer useful.
The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.