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Duncan Pressed on “Hold Harmless” in Hearing on FY 14 Budget


May 23, 2013


Duncan Pressed on “Hold Harmless” in Hearing on FY 14 Budget

Education Secretary Arne Duncan appeared on May 21 before the House Education and the Workforce Committee to discuss the Administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 budget request for the Department of Education. The hearing covered a range of issues from special education to student loan interest rates, but the committee also had some pointed questions for the secretary on the budget plan for CTE.

In the budget request, there is a proposal to set aside up to $100 million from the Perkins Basic State Grant for a competitive CTE innovation fund as part of the Administration’s Blueprint for the reauthorization of the Perkins Act. While ACTE supports the principal of encouraging innovative practices, we do not support the proposal to set aside funds for a competitive innovation grant that would result in less funds being distributed to all Perkins eligible CTE programs through the existing formula grant. This set-aside would also trigger a “hold harmless” provision in the Perkins Act that is designed to prevent states from dropping below their 1998 funding allocations. States that saw increases in their Perkins allocations due to rapid population growth since 1998 could now see large reductions in funding to prevent other states from being cut below their 1998 funding level as the overall allocation decreases.

It was this issue that prompted Rep. Joseph Heck (R-NV) to raise concerns with Sec. Duncan during the hearing. Rep. Heck’s home state of Nevada would see the largest cut in funding if the Perkins state allocation were to be cut another $100 million. “I do have some concerns with this proposal to create a $100 million competitive CTE innovation fund,” said Heck. He asked if the department had considered the potential impact of the hold harmless when including the innovation fund in the budget request. Duncan responded that he was not familiar with the details of the hold harmless, but welcomed input on the reauthorization Blueprint.

It is important to remember that the Administration’s reauthorization Blueprint and its FY 2014 budget request are only proposals and not law. It is up to Congress to determine how Perkins funding will be distributed and it is unlikely that they will adopt this plan. However, the threat of the hold harmless is real, and has already led to many states losing disproportionate funding due to prior cuts. ACTE will continue to work with Congress to ensure a strong federal investment in CTE that prevents more harmful cuts due to the hold harmless.

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