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House Appropriations Committee Sets FY 15 Funding Levels for Education

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May 8, 2014

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House Appropriations Committee Sets FY 15 Funding Levels for Education

The House Appropriations Committee today approved a measure that caps federal discretionary funding in Fiscal Year (FY) 2015. The $1.014 trillion total is consistent with the overall spending limit agreed to in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. The committee members determined how they will divide that total among the 12 appropriations bills. The combined funding total for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, known as a 302(b) allocations  is $155.7 billion—approximately $1 billion below the current level. From this amount, the appropriators will divide up funding for individual programs, such as Perkins.

On Tuesday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appeared before the Senate Budget Committee to testify about the Administration’s FY 2015 budget request for education—the fourth of such hearings since the budget was announced in early March. As we previously reported, the department’s budget plan only proposes to level fund the Perkins CTE State Grant program at $1.118 billion. During Tuesday’s hearing, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) argued for federal investments in education as an important component in America’s global competitiveness. She also expressed support for the Administration’s proposal to partially restore Pell grant eligibility for students without a high school diploma who demonstrate an ability to benefit.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the committee’s ranking Republican, criticized the “Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative,” which was included in the Administration’s budget request.  The initiative would constitute an extra $56 billion on top of the existing funding caps for new investments in key Administration priorities. The education and workforce training priorities in the initiative include $1.5 billion in FY 2015 to support a Community College Job-Driven Training Fund, which would offer competitive grants to partnerships of community colleges and other eligible entities to launch new training programs and apprenticeships focused on in-demand careers. Sen. Sessions argued that the initiative is a “political gesture” and that the Administration should prioritize its education investments within the established funding caps. The Senate is expected to announce its 302(b) allocations in the coming weeks.

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