Legislation
President's Full Budget Reportedly Contains Dramatic Cuts to Education
Reuters

President Trump’s full budget proposal for federal fiscal year (FY) 2018, scheduled to be released next Tuesday, will contain significant cuts to education, according to a draft obtained by the Washington Post.

 

The full budget will offer more information on the funding levels and policy proposals contained in the “skinny” budget issued in March.  It would cut $9.2 billion, or 13.6 percent, from the total funding for the U.S. Department of Education (ED).

 

Under this proposal, funding for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment block grant (Title IV, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA) would be eliminated entirely.  This year the program received $400 million out of a total $1.6 billion authorized.  The President also suggests eliminating funding for Title II of the ESEA, as well as 21st Century Community Schools Grants, Javits Gifted and Talented programs, and programs for Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students.

 

Despite broad bipartisan agreement on a reauthorization bill which passed the House Committee on Education and the Workforce earlier this week, the proposal would reportedly cut funding for State Career and Technical Education grants under the Carl D. Perkins Act by 15 percent, or $168 million.  Adult basic literacy grants would lose approximately 16 percent.

 

Higher education funding and financial aid would be slashed deeply under this proposal as well.  A popular loan forgiveness program for borrowers in public service jobs, enacted in 2007, would be eliminated for future borrowers (it is unclear how the change would impact existing borrowers).  The total amount of funding for Pell Grants would increase, but the maximum award would remain flat at $5,920.  The budget would contain loose proposals for ending Perkins Loans and subsidization of federal student loans for low-income students.

 

The full budget will reportedly contain more information on the President’s Title I portability proposal.  It will call for the creation of a new $1 billion federal grant program which would allow students to take federal, State, and local dollars to the public school of their choice.  This funding would come in addition to the existing Title I program and is intended to encourage students to create school choice programs.  And a new $250 million “Education Innovation and Research Grant” would pay for expanding and studying the impact of vouchers to private and religious schools.

 

Finally, the proposal would seek to eliminate about 150 positions at ED, largely in the Office for Civil Rights which would lose $1.7 million and more than 40 of roughly 570 positions. 
 

Still, the President’s full budget proposal is only a suggestion for Congress.  A spokesman for Senate Education Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander reminded reporters asking about the draft that “under the Constitution, Congress passes appropriations bills.”

 

Resources:
Andrew Ujifusa, “Trump Budget Reported to Use Title I, Research Aid to Push Choice,” Education Week: Politics K-12, May 17, 2017. 
Emma Brown, Valeria Strauss, and Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, “Trump’s first full education budget: Deep cuts to public school programs in pursuit of school choice,” Washington Post, May 17, 2017.

About the Author

Julia Martin is an attorney with the Washington, DC law firm of Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC. Established in 1980, the Firm is nationally recognized for its federal education regulatory and legislative practice, providing legal advice regarding compliance with all major federal education programs as well as the federal grants management requirements, including the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR). In addition, they work with agencies on federal spending flexibility, allowability, policies and procedures, audit defense and resolution and legislative updates. The Firm provides government relations services for the National Title I Association.