[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[April 20, 1998]
[Pages 592-593]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

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

[[Page 593]]

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.

                                                      William J. Clinton

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.