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Clinton Likes Internet, And Public Likes Clinton

By Carl Rochelle/CNN


WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 8) -- President Clinton made education the highest priority in his State of the Union address, and he's promised new funds to ensure that students become computer savvy.

His weekly radio address announced the first of $200 million in technology literacy grants.

"By doubling our investment in education technology, by dramatically lowering the Internet rates for schools and libraries, by mobilizing Americans all across the country to help wire our schools, we will meet our goal of connecting every classroom and library to the information superhighway by the year 2000," Clinton said.

Illinois, Mississippi and New Mexico will share the first installment of $14.3 million. The new grants concentrate on disadvantaged school districts and are expected to reach all 50 states by year's end.


Clinton's fiscal 1998 budget would increase funds for the program from $200 million to $500 million, making it a $2 billion project over five years.

The president pointed to new data that shows 65 percent of schools were linked to the Internet as of last fall, up from 35 percent in 1994.

The president also used the radio address to plug his $51 billion education budget, already questioned by congressional Republicans as too bureaucratic.

One Republican governor who has rejected federal money in the past says he is concerned about federal encroachment into state education policies.


"We don't mind taking the money and using it simply for computers and technology initiatives that we as Virginias have determined, but I don't want them doing anything to harm our standards," said Virginia Gov. George Allen.

Clinton meets with congressional leaders next week at the Capitol to defend his budget choices. Republicans say it spends too much and cuts too little.

Sure to generate serious debate is the president's proposal to spend $21 billion softening the effects of last year's welfare reform bill.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala said the administration wants changes in the law, but insists it doesn't want to replay last year's rancorous debate over welfare reform.


"What we're doing is protecting elderly disabled immigrants in nursing homes," Shalala said. "They're not part of the welfare reform debate. The welfare reform debate is about moving people from welfare to work."

Congress may not agree with the president's priorities, but the latest CNN/USA Today/Time poll shows many Americans do. Of those surveyed, 62 percent approve of the way Clinton is running the government, up from 58 percent in January.

Further, a third of Americans share his belief that education is the highest priority, while only 3 percent believe that campaign finance reform is a priority issue.

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