(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today announced that the fiscal year 2002 Labor, Health, Human Services and Education Bill (Labor, HHS) which includes significant funding for education and health care services in Washington state, passed the Senate by a vote of 89-10. The Bill will now go to a conference committee to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. Senator Murray will serve as a conferee on that committee.

Senator Murray succeeded in securing more than $3 billion in federal funding for Teacher Quality grants within the Labor, HHS bill. These grants will enable school districts to continue on the path of hiring 100,000 new teachers, thereby reducing class size to a national average of 18. Murray first introduced class size reduction into the appropriations process four years ago and has successfully secured funding for a class size reduction program for the past three years.

"Today, nearly 2 million students are learning in less crowded classrooms. But that is not enough," Murray said. "By funding the Teacher Quality grants at more than $3 billion we are telling parents, students and teachers that we are serious about investing in our children's education."

Murray also announced $1.5 billion for the Dislocated Worker Employment and Training Activities, and increase of nearly $140 million from last year's funding.

"With Boeing laying off more than 30,000 workers from its commercial airline business, workers in Washington state need help. This money is a good first step. Now we must also expand unemployment insurance, health care and job training programs to assist these newly unemployed workers," Murray said.

The Labor, HHS bill also includes funding for many of Washington state's health care priorities including:

  • $1.3 billion for Community Health Centers serving the uninsured and underinsured – an increase of $175 million over last year.
  • $1.6 billion to increase and improve access to rural care health services, providers and facilities.
  • $243 million for Pediatric Graduate Medical Education (GME) for hospitals like Children's Hospital in Seattle.
  • $23.6 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support cutting-edge medical research. Washington state is one of the top five recipients in the nation of NIH funding.
  • $338 million for bioterrorism and improving our local public health infrastructure to respond to public health threats.
"I am pleased by the Senate's commitment to rural health care, pediatric medicine and medical research in the Labor, HHS bill," Senator Murray said. "As we have seen through the recent Anthrax scares, support for our medical researchers and local health care facilities is critical to the health and well-being of our communities."