Duncan Pressed on “Hold Harmless” in Hearing on FY 14 Budget
May 23, 2013
Duncan Pressed on “Hold Harmless” in Hearing on FY 14
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.