Clinton-Gore Administration's Agenda for Communities


Crime/Drugs | Economic Empowerment | Education | Housing
Livability | Welfare Reform | Workforce Initiatives


21st Century Policing Initiative

In order to keep crime coming down to record low levels and the number of officers walking the beat at an all-time high, the President is committing nearly $1.3 billion for a new 21st Century Policing Initiative. The new 21st Century Policing Initiative builds on the President’s successful COPS program by: (1) helping communities to hire and redeploy between 30,000 and 50,000 more law enforcement officers over five years, with an effort to target new police officers to crime “hot spots” and to help retain those officers recently hired; (2) giving law enforcement access to the latest crime-fighting technologies, such as improved police communications, crime mapping software, laptop computers, and crime lab improvements; and (3) making an unprecedented commitment to engage entire communities in the hard work of preventing and fighting crime --by funding new community-based prosecutors, and partnerships with probation and parole officers, school officials, and faith-based organizations.

Zero Tolerance Drug Supervision

Numerous studies confirm that the vast majority of prisoners report drug use and that many prisoners commit their crimes to buy drugs or while high. To help break this iron link between crime and drugs, the President will propose $215 million for Zero Tolerance Drug Supervision that works to keep offenders drug-and crime-free. This initiative will provide new funds to help states and localities implement tough new systems to drug test, treat, and punish prisoners, parolees, and probationers. In addition, this initiative provides increased funds for innovative drug courts throughout the country and intensive drug treatment for state prisoners with the most serious drug problems.

Making the Brady Waiting Period Permanent

The Brady Law, which requires background checks of all prospective firearms purchasers, has stopped well over a quarter of a million illegal handgun sales since its enactment in 1993 --proving itself to be one of the most effective law enforcement tools ever. But the Brady Law’s “cooling off” or waiting period recently expired, and handguns can now be purchased on the spot in some states. To make sure that local law enforcement officers have enough time to conduct the best background check possible, the President will call for a new national waiting period of up to five days before the purchase of a handgun.

Preventing Violent Juveniles from Buying Guns

Violent juveniles should be treated as adults for their adult crimes, and stopped from getting weapons to hurt again. The President will propose legislation to ban violent juveniles from buying guns for life. The President’s proposal would extend the Brady Law to violent juveniles, closing the loophole under current law which permits youths convicted in juvenile court for certain violent and drug offenses to buy handguns on their 21st birthday.

Child Safety Locks for Handguns

Child safety locking devices can reduce the unauthorized use of handguns, by a child at play or a teen looking to commit a crime. And many youths have to look no further than their own home to get access to a gun: a third of all privately-owned handguns are left both loaded and unlocked. To address this problem, the President’s proposal would require federally-licensed firearms dealers to sell a child safety lock with every handgun --to help prevent youths from hurting themselves or each other.

Helping Make All Schools Safe, Disciplined, and Drug-Free

President Clinton is proposing a significant overhaul of the nearly $600 million Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Program to provide more effective prevention programs for the reduction of drugs and violence in schools, more accountability for results, and better targeting to those schools that need the most assistance.. Under the President’s proposal, schools would be required to adopt rigorous, comprehensive school safety plans that include: tough, but fair, discipline policies; safe passage to and from schools; effective drug and violence policies and programs; annual school safety and drug use report cards; links to after school programs; efforts to involve parents; and crisis management plans.

Economic Empowerment

New Markets Investments Initiative

One of the great still unmet challenges for the start of the 21st century is building economically vibrant communities in those places that our prosperity has not yet reached --inner cities and distressed rural areas. These new markets here at home have great potential. We must build a bridge between Wall Street and our great untapped markets. The President’s new markets initiative will spur $15 billion in new capital investment in businesses in these underserved areas through a package of tax credits and guarantees.


  • New Markets Tax Credit: A billion dollars of tax credits over five years worth up to 25% of the amount of equity invested in a variety of vehicles for providing equity and credit to businesses in underserved areas.
  • America's Private Investment Companies (APICs): Modeled after the Overseas Private Investment Corporation's (OPIC) successful investment fund program, this program would create, each year, five new private investment partnerships of up to $300 million. For each new APIC, HUD and the SBA would provide up to $200 million in loan guarantees to match $100 million in private investment, creating a fund of $300 million for investment in mid-sized firms expanding or relocating into underserved areas.
  • New Market Venture Capital Firms (NMVCs): SBA will match equity investment and technical assistance funds to finance 10-20 new investment partnerships selected to provide both patient growth capital and expert guidance to entrepreneurs who need both in order to transform their small businesses and great ideas into thriving companies.
  • SBICs targeted to new markets: Over 40 years, the SBIC program has helped more than 85,000 small companies grow, some from start-ups to household names like AOL; but the program has not done enough to help spur growth in underserved areas. SBA will provide more flexibility and new financing terms, along with aggressive outreach, to promote investment in low-and moderate-income areas by SBICs.
  • New Market Lending Companies (NMLCs): SBA will approve approximately 10 new non-bank lenders who have a strategy to target their lending to underserved areas.
  • Other: Other elements include seed money to expand BusinessLINC partnerships to encourage large businesses to work with small businesses in new markets and reforms to the Specialized Small Business Investment Company (SSBIC) tax credit to make it easier to use.

Empowerment Zones

Earlier this month, Vice President Gore named 20 economically distressed communities as new Empowerment Zones (EZs). Tonight, the President is reaffirming his Administration’s commitment to securing full funding of flexible grant funding for the new EZs. If Congress approves full funding for the EZs, federal investment is expected to help create and retain about 90,000 jobs and stimulate $20.3 billion in private and public investment in the next 10 years.

Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI)

In 1994, the President proposed and Congress established the CDFI Fund. This Fund further expands the availability of credit, investment capital, financial services, and other development services in distressed communities. The President is proposing to expand funding for the CDFI program to $125 million --a $30 million increase from FY 1999.

Working to Ensure a Fair and Accurate Census

As the President said in his 1999 State of the Union Address, "since every person in America counts, every American ought to be counted. We need a census that uses modern scientific methods to do that." The Clinton-Gore Administration is working to ensure that Census 2000 is the most accurate census possible. Recently, the Supreme Court ruled against the use of "sampling” for apportioning congressional seats among States, but affirmed the Administration’s use of scientific methods for other purposes. The Census Bureau has already begun the work necessary to make sure that Census 2000 is accurate and accommodates the Court’s ruling.

The Clinton-Gore Administration understands what is at stake. The President is mindful that, according to the Census Bureau, the last decennial census, conducted in 1990, missed 8.4 million people and double- counted 4.4 million others. The Administration knows that the American people rely on census data every day and that over $180 billion in federal funding is distributed annually based on census figures. The President and Vice President also understand that census information is relied upon by communities to help determine where to locate schools, build roads and bridges, and establish child care facilities and job training centers. The Clinton-Gore Administration believes that a fair and accurate census is a fundamental part of a representative democracy and is the basis for providing equality under the law. That is why the President is determined to have a fair and full count in 2000.

Helping America’s Communities Redevelop Abandoned Buildings

This new Federal initiative would attack one of the primary causes of blight in urban neighborhoods: abandoned apartment buildings, single family homes, warehouses, office buildings, and commercial centers. Under the proposal, HUD will provide $50 million in competitive grant funds in FY2000 to local governments to support the demolition or deconstruction of blighted, abandoned buildings, as long as there is a plan -- with significant private-sector participation -- to redevelop the property for commercial use or multi-family and single family housing. To ensure no incentive is created to abandon buildings, the program would be sunsetted after three years and no building abandoned after October 1, 1999 would be eligible for redevelopment. Preferences will be given to communities that link existing youth training programs with the property’s redevelopment.


Accountability for Results

In his State of the Union Address, President Clinton will announced a package of accountability measures designed to hold students, teachers, and schools to high standards, and to ensure that school districts and states provide students with a high quality education. These proposals will help to lift student achievement in every public school and close the achievement gap by giving special attention to disadvantaged students in low-performing schools.

The President’s plan marks a sea change in national education policy --for the first time holding states and school districts accountable for progress and rewarding them for results. While insisting that states and local governments retain primary responsibility for education, President Clinton will call on Congress to make sure federal dollars support what works and not what doesn’t. His proposal emphasizes reforms that a growing number of states, cities, and schools across the nation are implementing and that are producing clear results.

Specifically, the President will announce that he will send Congress legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to ensure that schools end social promotion; teachers are qualified to teach the subjects they are assigned; states turn around their lowest-performing schools; parents get annual report cards on school performance; and schools institute effective discipline policies.

Accountability for Results: End Social Promotion

The President’s ESEA proposal will require states and school districts to end social promotion --the practice of promoting students from grade to grade regardless of whether they have mastered the appropriate material and are academically prepared to do the work at the next level. Students who are promoted without regard to their achievement fall even further behind their classmates, and are more likely to lack basic skills upon graduating from high school.

To ensure that this requirement helps more students succeed, rather than simply increasing the number held back, states and school districts would have to show how they will help students meet promotion standards on time by (1) strengthening learning opportunities in the classroom with clear standards, small classes with well-prepared teachers, high quality professional development, and use of proven instructional practices; (2) identifying students who need help at the earliest possible moment; (3) providing extended learning time, including after-school and summer school for students who need extra help; and (4) developing an effective remedial plan, with intensive intervention, for students who still do not meet the standards, so they can get back on track in their schooling.

In 1996 President Clinton challenged every state and school district to adopt policies to end social promotion and require students to pass high school graduation exams. Twenty six states now have high school exit exams, and last year four states adopted policies to stop promoting unprepared students from grade to grade. A growing number of urban school districts, including Boston, Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington D.C. are adopting similar policies. In Chicago, which three years ago ended the practice of social promotion in a way that gives students who need it substantial extended learning time, citywide math and reading scores have gone up every year, with the largest gains among the most disadvantaged students. President Clinton’s FY 2000 budget proposes to triple federal funding for after-school and summer school programs (from $200 million to $600 million) to help schools ending social promotion give students the extra help they need to succeed.

Accountability for Results: Turn Around Low Performing Schools

The President’s ESEA proposal will require states to identify the schools with the lowest achievement levels and least improvement and take corrective action to turn them around. These corrective actions, based on a careful assessment of each school’s needs, would include steps such as intensive teacher training, support to improve school discipline, and the implementation of proven approaches to school reform. If these actions do not result in improved student achievement within two years, the proposal would require states to take additional corrective actions, such as permitting students to attend other public schools; reconstituting the school, by fairly evaluating the staff and making staff changes as appropriate; or closing the school and reopening it as a charter school or with an entirely new staff. Nineteen states currently take similar actions to help improve low-performing schools, and experience demonstrates that when these interventions are carefully implemented and accompanied by the resources to support change, schools improve and student achievement increases. The President’s FY 2000 budget contains $200 million to help states begin taking these steps immediately.

Accountability for Results: Put Qualified Teachers in the Classroom

According to the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, one of the most important factors in improving student achievement is the knowledge and skills teachers bring to the classroom. Yet every year, approximately 50,000 individuals teach on “emergency” certificates, which means they do not meet the standards the state has set for certification. In addition, numerous teachers teach subjects for which they lack adequate preparation, with fully one quarter of secondary school teachers lacking even a minor in their main teaching field. Students in schools with the highest concentrations of poverty --those who often need the most help from the best teachers --are most likely to be in classrooms with teachers who are not fully qualified: for example, in schools with the highest minority enrollment, students have a less than 50 percent chance of having a math or science teacher with a license and degree in the field.

The President’s ESEA proposal will require states to adopt performance examinations for all new teachers, requiring them to demonstrate both subject-matter knowledge and teaching expertise. The proposal also will require states and school districts to phase out, over five years, the use of teachers with emergency certificates and the practice of assigning teachers to subjects for which they lack adequate preparation. To support these new teacher quality standards, the proposal will provide resources to help states strengthen teacher certification standards, test new teachers, provide training to current teachers, and give incentives to recruit more highly qualified teachers.

Accountability for Results: Issue School Report Cards

The President’s ESEA proposal will require states to distribute to all parents annual report cards for each school and school district, as well as the state as a whole. The report cards will include information on student achievement, teacher professional qualifications, class size, school safety, and other factors that will help parents to judge the performance of the schools. Where appropriate, the report cards also will show the academic achievement of ethnic and racial subgroups, to ensure accountability for helping all students achieve. Thirty-six states currently publish or require local school districts to publish school report cards, and five additional states will begin the practice in the next two years. A recent report by Public Agenda, however, shows that only 31 percent of parents had seen these report cards. The President’s ESEA proposal will help ensure that all parents in all states have access to the information they need to evaluate the quality of their schools and identify the areas in which improvement is needed.

Accountability for Results: Adopt Discipline Policies

Schools must be a place of learning. President Clinton already has challenged states, communities, and schools to take a number of steps to restore order and safety, such as adopting school uniforms, enforcing truancy laws, and imposing curfews. But in some schools, the breakdown of classroom discipline remains one of the biggest obstacles to learning and one of the greatest concerns for teachers, students, and parents alike. The President’s proposal will require states and school districts to adopt discipline policies to make sure students have the chance to learn and teachers have the chance to teach.

A National Effort to Reduce Class Size in the Early Grades

In his 1998 State of the Union address, President Clinton proposed to help local school schools hire 100,000 well-prepared teachers in order to reduce class size in grades 1-3 to a national average of 18, and make sure that every child gets a solid foundation in the basics. Studies show that smaller classes help teachers provide more personal attention to students and spend less time on discipline; this helps students to learn more and get a stronger foundation in the basic skills. In these studies, minority and disadvantaged students showed the largest achievement gains. Last year, Congress provided a down payment on the President’s seven year, $12.4 billion proposal by appropriating $1.2 billion to help local communities hire about 30,000 teachers. Now Congress must finish the job by providing the next installment of funds for local schools to continue progress toward hiring 100,000 new teachers over seven years.

Modern School Buildings to Improve Student Learning

For students to learn, schools must be well-equipped and be able to accommodate smaller class sizes. In 1998, the American Society of Civil Engineers said that school buildings represent the nation’s most pressing infrastructure need. To address this critical need, President Clinton is proposing federal tax credits as incentives to help states and school districts to build and renovate public schools. Half of the bond authority will be allocated to the 100 school districts with the largest number of low-income children, and the other half will be allocated to the states.

Recruiting Outstanding New Teachers for Our Nation’s Public Schools

With more than 2 million teachers to be hired in the next ten years to accommodate record student enrollments and an aging teaching force, the nation must not only recruit an adequate number of teachers, but ensure a quality teaching force through effective teacher recruitment and preparation. The President’s budget will contain a series of new initiatives and funding increases to help recruit well prepared individuals to teach where they are needed the most, in high poverty urban and rural communities. In particular, the President’s FY 2000 budget will increase funding for his teacher recruitment effort enacted in last year’s Higher Education Act -- to $35 million from $7.5 million --to recruit 7,000 outstanding new teachers into high need public schools by giving them scholarships in exchange for a commitment to teach. The President will announce other initiatives to improve teacher quality at an event later in the week.


Low-Income Housing Tax Credit

Since its creation in 1986, the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) has given states tax credits of $1.25 per capita to allocate to developers of affordable housing. Even though building costs have increased 40 percent in the last decade, the amount of the credit has not been adjusted for inflation. Therefore, President Clinton and Vice President Gore propose to increase the cap on the LIHTC from $1.25 per capita to $1.75 per capita -- restoring the value of the credit to its 1986 level. Estimates suggest that the LIHTC currently helps build 75,000-90,000 affordable housing units each year. The President and Vice President’s proposal to increase the cap by 40 percent will create an additional 150,000-180,000 new rental housing units for low- income American families over the next five years. Last year, over two-thirds of the House and Senate were co-sponsors on bills to raise the cap on the LIHTC -- more support than any other tax legislation. This proposal will cost $1.7 billion over five years.

Senior Housing Plan

To complement the long-term health care initiatives announced by the President in his State of the Union Address, the Department of Housing and Urban Development's plan to meet the changing housing needs of our nation's elders will provide security and peace of mind to coming generations of senior citizens, especially the rapidly growing number of frail elderly over age 85. Priority budget items are $747 million for Section 202 Housing for the Elderly, including reforms to allow for conversion of existing buildings where seniors need assisted living, and $87 million to give elderly people housing vouchers.


The President's budget will include an increase of $150 million to a record level of $1.1 billion for expanding the continuum of care for the nation's homeless. The increase in homeless assistance, plus 10,000 new vouchers to create permanent housing solutions, will address the housing needs of the most vulnerable Americans -- those making a transition from the streets back into homes and community life.


Livability Agenda: Easing Traffic Congestion and Community Planning and Collaboration

To help communities across America grow in ways that ensure a high quality of life and strong, sustainable economic growth, President Clinton and Vice President Gore are proposing a comprehensive Livability Agenda providing new tools and resources for state and local governments. The initiative includes: a record $6.1 billion for public transit, plus $2.4 billion for other innovative programs to promote improved transportation planning and ease traffic congestion so commuters can spend less time in traffic and more with their families; $50 million in matching grants to help neighboring communities develop collaborative “smart growth” strategies; and $10 million to encourage citizen participation in the design of schools as centers of their communities, provide communities with new information tools so they can grow according to their values, and improve public safety by sharing crime data among communities. By delivering tools and resources to the local level, where issues of growth are most appropriately addressed, this initiative helps empower citizens to build more “livable communities” for the 21st century.

Livability Agenda: Better America Bonds

To help communities reconnect with their land and water, preserve green space for future generations, and provide attractive settings for economic development, the Administration is proposing a new financing tool generating $9.5 billion in bond authority for investments by state, local and tribal governments. The President’s budget will propose tax credits totaling almost $700 million over five years --to support Better America Bonds, which can be used to preserve green space, create or restore urban parks, protect water quality, and clean up brownfields (abandoned industrial sites). The program will be coordinated through an interagency process.

Welfare Reform

Welfare Rolls Decline as More Recipients go to Work

The President announced that welfare is at its lowest level in 30 years and the welfare rolls have fallen by nearly half since he took office. The percent of welfare recipients working has tripled since 1992, and all states met the first overall work participation rates required under the welfare reform law. Two years ago the President challenged the business community to create jobs so that people can move from welfare to work. Today, 10,000 companies of all sizes, industries, and from all regions have joined the Welfare to Work Partnership and are successfully hiring and retaining hundreds of thousands of welfare recipients. The President has announced that his budget will include $530 million to extend for one year the Welfare to Work and Work Opportunity Tax Credits to encourage more employers to hire welfare recipients and other disadvantaged individuals.

Welfare-to-Work Funds with a Focus on Fathers

The President’s $1 billion Welfare-to-Work initiative will help 200,000 long-term welfare recipients in high- poverty areas move into lasting unsubsidized employment. It is an extension of the two-year $3 billion Welfare-to-Work program the President secured in the Balanced Budget Act. The initiative, as reauthorized, will provide at least $150 million to ensure that every state helps fathers fulfill their responsibilities by working, paying child support, and playing a responsible part in their children’s lives. Under this proposal, states and communities will use a minimum of 20 percent of their formula funds to provide job placement and job retention assistance to low-income fathers who sign personal responsibility contracts committing them to work and pay child support. This effort will further increase child support collections, which have risen 80 percent since the President took office, from $8 billion in 1992 to $14.4 billion in 1998. Remaining funds will go toward assisting long-term welfare recipients with the greatest barriers to employment to move into lasting jobs. The reauthorized program also will double the welfare-to-work funding available for tribes.

Transportation and Housing for Families Moving From Welfare to Work

The President has announced that his budget will contain $580 million for welfare-to-work housing vouchers and transportation assistance to help those on welfare get to work and stay employed. The President’s budget will provide $430 million for 75,000 welfare-to-work housing vouchers, including $144 million in new funds for 25,000 additional vouchers. This is a 50 percent increase over the 50,000 vouchers the President secured last year. The vouchers will help families move closer to a new job, reduce a long commute, or secure more stable housing so they can perform better on the job. The President’s budget will also increase Access to Jobs transportation funding from $75 million to $150 million, doubling the number of individuals and communities that can receive transportation assistance. This competitive grant program supports innovative state and local transportation solutions such as shuttles, van pools, new bus routes, and connector services to mass transit to help welfare recipients and other low income workers get to work.

Workforce Initiatives

Adult Education And Family Literacy Initiative

Today, 44 million adults struggle with a job application, cannot read to their children, or cannot fully participate in our economic and civic life because they lack basic skills or English proficiency. The President’s $190 million adult education and family literacy initiative would provide $95 million -- or 25 percent -- more for adult education grants and challenges state and local governments to join with us to raise program quality; $70 million for a new English literacy/civics initiative; $20 million to help develop new technology for adult learners; create a new 10% tax credit to employers who establish certain workplace literacy programs; and put in place a new initiative to mobilize state and local communities to implement strategies to promote adult education and lifelong learning.

Universal Re-employment Initiative. The President’s FY2000 budget makes a five-year commitment to our Nation’s reformed job training system. Specifically, President Clinton proposes to put us on a path that ensures that within five years: (1) all displaced workers will receive the job training they want and need -- after nearly tripling funding for dislocated workers since 1993, this initiative makes the first-year commitment of an additional $190 million; (2) All people who lose their jobs due to no fault of their own will get the re- employment services -- e.g., job search assistance -- they need; and (3) All Americans will have access to One-Stop Career Centers, including a nationwide toll-free telephone system so that all workers will be able to find out what services are available and where they can go to receive them; job search information at 4,000 Community-Based Organizations; 100 mobile One-Stop Career Centers; and increased access for the disabled and the blind.

Youth Employment Initiative. The unemployment rate among disadvantaged youth -- especially African American teens -- is significantly higher than the national average. In addition to an increase in JobCorps and the $250 million for the new Youth Opportunity Areas, this initiative includes a 75-percent increase in YouthBuild, from $42.5 million to $75 million; create a new $100 million “Right-Track” Partnership initiative to help lower drop-out rates; doubles the funding for GEAR UP -- which helps mentor children and prepare them for college -- from $120 million to $240 million; create a new $50 million initiative to help link Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities (EZ/ECs) to their broader metropolitan regional economies in order to increase the employment of disadvantaged youth; and provides $65 million more to prepare disadvantaged youth for success in college, including $30 million increase in outreach, counseling, and educational support through TRIO program, and new $35 million initiative to help disadvantaged students stay in college.

Minimum Wage Increase

The President called on Congress to pass an increase in the minimum wage. Despite the strongest economy in a generation, there are still millions of workers trying to raise a family and struggling to make ends meet. The President believes that parents who works hard and play by the rules should not have to raise their children in poverty. That is why, in 1993, he expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and, in 1996, fought for and won a minimum wage increase. The President’s proposal would increase the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.15 over two years -- through a 50-cent increase on September 1, 1999 and a 50-cent increase on September 1, 2000 -- helping to restore the real value of the minimum wage to what it was when President Reagan took office in 1981. This increase will help ensure that -- as costs continue to increase -- parents who work hard and play by the rules can bring up their children out of poverty. For someone who works full-time, this minimum wage increase will mean an additional $2,000 per year. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 12 million hourly paid workers would benefit directly from this pay raise.


January 29, 1999

Clinton-Gore Administration's Agenda for Communities

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