Monday, March 25, 2019

Federal Legislative Report (116-02)

116th Congress, Number 02

FISCAL YEAR 2020 (FY20) APPROPRIATIONS
President Trump released his FY20 Budget Request to Congress on March 11. This is the first step in the appropriations process. As expected, the President proposed significant cuts to the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and other federal agencies, however, for the past two fiscal years Congress has approved spending levels above the President's proposals.

The President proposed an overall reduction for all Federal appropriations of $2.7 trillion over the next ten years.  For this next fiscal year that begins October 1, 2019, the budget request would reduce funding for education and other domestic programs by almost five percent. The budget request cuts discretionary funding to the Department of Education to $62 billion, a 12 percent decrease from the FY19 enacted level.

Proposed funding levels for specific programs:

  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Title I, and Impact Aid – level funding
  • Title II – would eliminate 29 programs within the USDE including Title II programs for effective instruction, which are currently funded at $2.3 billion. With ESSA implementation efforts underway that emphasize the role of effective teachers, principals and school leaders, the loss of Title II investments could impact State and local efforts to develop tools and incentives focused on strengthening instruction, improving student academic outcomes, and retaining effective educators, especially for schools in underserved communities.
  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers – eliminated in proposal.  This program is currently funded at $1.2 billion and provides after-school programs for students.
  • Education Freedom Scholarships – a new tax credit program announced at the end of February, which would provide a new tax credit of $50 billion ($5 billion/year) over ten years to support private or public school choice.  The tax credit would be for individual or corporate donations to state-authorized scholarship-granting organizations to be used for private school tuition, after-school tutoring, extra courses, and certain public school expenses.  This is the President's latest effort to divert public dollars away from public schools.
  • Career Technical Education funding – increases funding to provide $1.3 billion for state grants and $20 million for national programs. 
  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness – eliminated in proposal.  This program is helpful in addressing the teacher shortage crisis.
  • School Safety – proposes an increase of $354 million, above FY19, across a number of agencies, including the Department of Justice, for grants that give states and school districts resources to promote school safety. 


EDUCATION SAVINGS ACCOUNTS FOR MILITARY FAMILIES
U.S Senators Tim Scott (R-SC), Ben Sasse (R-NE), and Tom Cotton (R-AR) re-introduced legislation again this Congress to establish Military Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) which would transform the Impact Aid program into an ESA.  Like private school voucher programs, ESAs divert tax dollars away from public schools to accounts that are used for other educational expenses, including private school tuition.