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House Appropriators Challenge Duncan on CTE Budget Proposal

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April 8, 2014

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House Appropriators Challenge Duncan on CTE Budget Proposal

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appeared before the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee today to discuss the Administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 budget request for education. As we previously reported, the budget request proposes to level fund the Perkins CTE State Grant program at $1.118 billion—$5 million below the pre-sequestration level. Last week, a bipartisan coalition of 94 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to the subcommittee urging an increase in Perkins funding to pre-sequestration levels in the FY 2015 funding bill.

During the subcommittee hearing, Sec. Duncan was pressed on why the department’s budget request does not include any new investments in Perkins.  Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL), the newest member of the subcommittee and a former member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, asked Duncan how he expects schools to continue to offer rigorous and relevant career training and education for all students without a strong investment in CTE. She also took issue with the proposal to set aside $100 million in Perkins CTE State Grant funding for a new competitive innovation fund. “We have yet to fulfill our commitment to fully fund existing formula-driven programs,” said Roby. She goes on to ask, “Why does the Administration continue to propose competitive grants that only benefit a few students instead of increasing funds for proven programs like CTE that help to further the goal of career readiness for all students?” Duncan argued that most of the department’s funding request is direct to formula grants and that some of the proposed competitive grants could benefit CTE.

However, the numerous proposals for new competitive funding in education were a source of bipartisan frustration among the members of the subcommittee. Rep Steve Womack (R-AR) expressed particular concern for rural school districts that may not have the capacity to pursue competitive funds. “Because of the resource gap we have between certain districts, it creates a bigger divide, it creates winners and losers in public education,” said Womack. Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the subcommittee’s ranking Democrat, and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) also questioned the department’s approach of prioritizing competitive grants over formula funding.

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