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Copyright 1999 The Buffalo News  
The Buffalo News

February 26, 1999, Friday, CITY EDITION


LENGTH: 329 words


BYLINE: DOUGLAS TURNER; News Washington Bureau Chief



Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., has introduced a package of bills dealing with education, pension portability, credit cards and women's health.

The largest item in the package, which would cost $ 36 billion over five years, is $ 30 billion worth of tax deductions for major college costs, Schumer said Thursday at a briefing.

Schumer said the legislation can be readily paid out of the annual budget surpluses. His main education bill, which is co-sponsored by Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., would allow single filers making up to $ 100,000 a year and joint filers up to $ 140,000 to take tax deductions for the full cost of college tuition, room and board.

All two-year and four-year colleges would be eligible except those that raise year-to-year tuition more than the level of inflation, Schumer said, noting that tuition prices have risen faster than any other costs in the economy, including health care.

Another Schumer bill, which is sure to be resisted by corporate America, would require all companies that now offer their employees a traditional pension to allow them also to take part in portable plans such as a 401k. Schumer's bill also would require companies to let employees cash out when they leave and roll their lump sum into a 401k without penalty.

Schumer's "Better Schools Through Better Teachers" bill would grant $ 5,000 worth of student loan forgiveness if graduates teach school for five years. Teachers in private and public schools would be eligible.

A proposed Equity in Women's Health Act would bar health insurance companies from discriminating against enrollees or providers based on race, gender or sexual orientation.

For example, he said, if a health plan offered prescription drugs, "They would have to cover drugs that only women use as well -- such as oral contraceptives."

Schumer said he also is working on legislation to enhance airline fare competitiveness and electric power rate deregulation.

LOAD-DATE: February 28, 1999

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