Nation In Brief

Bush Signs New Education Law

President George W. Bush signed new education legislation last week, to increase federal funding for public schools.

The education package requires annual math and science testing for students in grades three to eight beginning in 2005. School districts must submit annual reports of test scores for individual public schools broken down by race, gender and income in an attempt to provide equal education opportunities to all students.

The federal funding will also allow parents to send their children to alternative school districts if their school receives a failing grade for two consecutive years.

Supreme Court Limits ADA

In a unanimous decision last week, the Supreme Court ruled that workers seeking federal relief under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act must prove that their impairment impacts their daily lives.

Writing for the court, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor recognized the importance of the ADA but stated, “Congress did not intend for everyone with an impairment that barred the performance of some isolated, unimportant or particularly difficult manual task to be covered by the ADA.” The case centered on a Toyota employee who could not perform some parts of the job because of carpal tunnel syndrome.

While the ruling was narrow in nature, lawyers on both sides acknowledged that in the future workers seeking ADA coverage will have to demonstrate substantial impairment in their daily lives.

Bush proposes welfare for legal immigrants

A presidential initiative proposed last week aims to restore welfare benefits to some 363,000 legal immigrants.

The plan, to be presented to Congress Feb. 4 as part of the 2003 budget, would cost $2.1 billion over 10 years.

A 1996 welfare law severely restricted the availability of food stamps and federal funding to immigrants. Lawmakers felt such entitlement programs attracted immigrants to the United States and then encouraged them not to work.

Congressional report predicts deficit spending

A congressional report released last week indicates that the current recession is accountable for eliminating two-thirds of the expected $313 billion surplus predicted for 2002. Analysts are now predicting a deficit.

According to the report by the Congressional Budge Office, the government will run a $1 billion deficit for 2002 and a $5 billion deficit next year.

Analysts predict that the worst is yet to come, because the largests parts of the tax cut plan have not taken effect yet. The report drops predictions for a 2011 surplus $2.2 trillion from $5.6 trillion, with 45 percent of the lost revenue attributable to the president’s tax cut plan.

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