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Senate Appropriators Wary of Competitive Funding in President’s Budget




Senate Appropriators Wary of Competitive Funding in President’s Budget


Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appeared before the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee this week to discuss federal funding for education in Fiscal Year (FY) 2014. He testified last week in a hearing with the Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee in the House, where he outlined the president’s FY 2014 budget request.

As we previously reported, the Administration recommended funding Perkins at $1.1 billion, equal to FY 2012 levels, before sequestration. The budget plan included a $10 million increase for the National Programs line item in Perkins which is designated for a new fund to support and evaluate dual enrollment programs. Additionally, there is funding for several new programs that could benefit CTE, including a high school redesign program, several STEM related initiatives and the Community College to Career Fund.

Like their House counterparts, Senate appropriators expressed reservations about the Administration’s proposal to increase funding for competitive grant programs like those listed above, with little new investment in established formal grants for education, like Perkins. Both Republicans and Democrats on the subcommittee questioned the Administration’s call for a freeze in funding for formula programs that fund special education, K-12 and CTE. Additionally, Senators from rural states reiterated their concern that smaller school districts in their states would not have the resources to pursue competitive grant funding. While overall funding for education is increased in the president’s plan, much of that funding is directed to new and existing competitive grant programs like Race to the Top.

Secretary Duncan indicated that the majority of all federal education funds are still dedicated to formula programs like Title I, IDEA and Perkins. He also argued that because the president’s budget proposes to replace the across-the-board sequester cuts, they are actually increasing funding for those programs. However, there is no indication that the Administration will be able to come to an agreement with Congress that fixes the sequester. Congress must make sure that limited funding resources are directed to proven education programs like Perkins, which provide access to high-quality CTE programs for all students.

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