WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush's insistence on a major tax cut will cost the country a meaningful education plan, a Democratic senator said Saturday in his party's weekly radio address.

Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware said Republicans have left little money in the budget to pay for ailing education programs.

``During the recent tax debates, Democrats fought for and won increased federal funding for education by $300 billion above inflation over the next decade,'' Carper said. ``Republicans, with encouragement from the White House, later eliminated these additional investments entirely, in order to make the tax cut even larger.''

Bush originally proposed a $1.6 trillion tax cut. But the Senate pressured the president to accept a $1.35 trillion package, and a Senate-House negotiators went along with the smaller figure in the final bill.

Democrats opposed even the smaller tax cut, arguing that it would consume far too much of the projected $5.6 trillion, 10-year budget surplus to meet other needs such as education, defense, debt reduction and Medicare prescription drug benefits. They also contended it was unfairly tilted toward the wealthy.

Bush has argued that the tax cut will stimulate the economy and provide more money for education in the long run.

Carper said the federal Head Start program, which provides preschool education for disadvantaged children, will continue to flounder because of the tax cut.

``The government currently underfunds Head Start so badly that fewer than half of the eligible children living in poverty can participate in it,'' he said. ``President Bush's budget does not solve this problem.''