CTCs Pick Up Steam on the Hill
Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), and Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) were the first House members to explicitly put in a request for the $100 million for CTCs in their appropriations "wish lists," in support of the Clinton Administration's request.
Last year, Rep. Moran was the only member (and full Appropriations Committee member) who put this as a specific request. This year, both Jackson and Moran sit on Appropriations, with Jackson sitting on the Labor/HHS/Education subcommittee that determines whether or not the request goes through.
Rep. Jackson, moreover, has made technology access a legislative priority, and is poised to help mobilize the Congressional Black Caucus on the issue. Rep. Reyes' support is significant. He leads the Congressional Hispanic Caucus' task force on technology issues, and he is also the sponsor of the House companion bill to Sen. Mikulski's National Digital Empowerment Act. Both he and the caucus chair, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, reportedly pushed each CHC member to include CTCs as items in their appropriations "wish lists" as well. The CHC is being nudged to be more visible on digital divide issues, and will attempt to do outreach on the Hill as well.
CTCs also got a big boost during President Clinton's April 4 speech in advance of his upcoming third New Markets tour, this one focused specifically on the "digital divide." Labor Secretary Alexis Herman, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, and Julian Lacey, 29, a Silicon Valley Web designer and volunteer at Plugged In (an East Palo Alto CTC) joined the President in calling attention to efforts to narrow the digital divide.
Starting April 17, Clinton will visit East Palo Alto, CA; a Navajo Indian reservation in Shiprock, NM, rural communities in North Carolina, and the spring Comdex convention in Chicago. This tour is designed to elicit private-sector commitments to both sign a "National Call to Action,'' and offer solutions and contributions of money and services to address different digital divide needs.
Building off of those remarks, on April 5th, there was a daylong White House conference on the "New Economy" attended by high-profile technology executives and economic experts. All of this is tied to Clinton's proposed 2001 budget, which includes a 10-year, $2 billion in tax incentive package, and a $380 million in proposed grants to encourage private- sector engagement in computer donation, community technology access efforts, and workforce training.
The package seeks to address two main goals (1) connecting childre, teachers, and schools to technology tools and online linerning resources and (2) bringing technology to every community through Community Technology Centers and high-speed networks and home connectivity, in addition to providing lifelong technology learning opportunities.