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Duncan Defends FY 15 Budget Request with Senate Appropriators


May 2, 2014


Duncan Defends FY 15 Budget Request with Senate Appropriators

Following his appearance at the House Education and the Workforce Committee earlier this week, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan went before the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday to defend the Administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 budget request for education.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), the chairman of the subcommittee, noted that the department’s FY 2015 budget request includes a significant increase for education funding overall—more than $1 billion above the current fiscal year. Despite the overall increase requested for education, the department’s budget plan only proposes to level fund the Perkins CTE State Grant program at $1.118 billion.

Chairman Harkin criticized the House-passed budget resolution written by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). The Ryan budget proposal would maintain the $1.014 trillion discretionary spending cap for FY 2015 that was established in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, but it would implement significant funding reductions beginning in FY 2016. Harkin noted that under the Ryan budget, non-defense discretionary funding, which includes education and workforce training programs, would be cut by almost 9 percent in FY 2016, with $791 billion in reductions over 10 years.

The subcommittee’s top ranking Republican, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), expressed his reluctance over the department’s focus on competitive grant programs in education. “I remain concerned that this Administration continues its emphasis on competitive grant funding and, once again, the budget directs new or increased funding primarily to competitive grant programs,” said Sen. Moran.  The budget request for CTE has a recommended set aside of $100 million from the Perkins state grant program for a new competitive CTE innovation fund.  Sec. Duncan was challenged on this proposal during his previous appearances in the House. Sen. Moran argued that the department should not be “picking winners and losers” among states and school districts through the use of competitive grants.

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