Budget Blast: Trump FY18 Budget Proposal Would Gut Education & Skills Training

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On Wednesday, the Washington Post obtained a leaked version of President Trump’s fiscal year (FY) 2018 education budget proposal. Set to be officially released next week, the proposal would, among other items, significantly reduce investments in skills training and adult basic literacy and eliminate ed tech investments under ESSA’s Title IV. The proposal would shift some of those funds to new investments in school choice, including expanding charting schools and vouchers for private and religious schools.

As we’ve noted previously in SIIA Budget Blasts, the President’s budget proposal is just that – a proposal. The House and Senate budget committees will develop the actual budget and have historically ignored presidential budget proposals. Additionally, any new programs would require an act of Congress to create before any funding could be obligated – meaning new school choice programs will not come to fruition anytime soon. The FY18 provides more of an insight into the Trump Administration’s education priorities and fleshes out the President’s “skinny budget” proposal released in March.

While the Washington Post has received a verified copy of the proposal, the actual document has not yet been released. As reported by the Post and other sources, the FY18 proposal would cut $9.6B, or 13.6%, from the Education Department’s current budget of $68B. In addition, the plan would shift $1B to a new federal grant program under Title I to allow for portability of federal, state, and local dollars to a student’s public school of choice. This new program does not currently exist as no Title I funding is portable under existing statute. It would take an act of Congress to create such a program. Notably in the proposal though, the additional billion dollars would be an increase to the $15.9B Title I receives currently under the FY17 spending agreement – meaning such funds would come from other existing programs since the total proposal calls for overall cuts to education spending.

Completely eliminated under the budget proposal are the following programs –

  • Title IV Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grant program
    SSAE is a new flexible block grant program under ESSA designed to support well-rounded and safe and healthy student programs as well as programs for the effective use of education technology. The grants received their first appropriation of $400M in FY17.
  • Title II Teacher Professional Development grants
    The Supporting Effective Instruction State Grant program (Title II, Part A) is the third largest federal K-12 grant program. The funds are used by states and districts for professional development (including in the use of education technology and data) and for class-size reduction. Title II just took a significant $294M, or 13%, cut in the FY17 spending agreement. Current funding is $2.05B for FY17.
  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers programs
    This program supports after school and summer programming, particularly for students in high-poverty communities. The programming could include summer meals, tutoring, STEM and computer science camps, English as a second language instruction, and even GED classes for parents. Many of these programs are 100% supported by federal funding. Currently, 21st Century Community Learning Centers receive $1.2B for FY17.

Receiving significant cuts but spared the axe includes –

  • The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act
    The Perkins CTE Act supports vocational and technical training programs in high schools and community colleges around the nation. The program is flexible in how funding can be spent and schools typically use it to purchase instructional materials and equipment otherwise out of reach with only state and local funding. The President proposed cutting $168M, or 15%, from the program. For FY17, Perkins is funded at $1.125B which is still below it’s FY2007 high.
  • Adult Basic Education and Literacy Instruction
    This program supports local programs providing workplace literacy services, family literacy services, English literacy programs and English literacy/civics education programs for adults and out-of-school youths over age 16. The President’s proposal would cut $96M, or 16%, from the program. FY17 funding for basic ed and literacy instruction is $582M.
  • College Work-Study programs
    A form of federal financial aid, students in higher education receive a grant while working on campus. SIIA has advocated that this program shift its priority to providing work study opportunities related to a student’s program of study rather than simply providing general employment. The President’s proposal would cut the program in half, eliminating $490M.

Brendan Brendan Desetti is SIIA's Director of Education Policy. Follow Brendan on Twitter at @SIIAbrendan and find relevant national, federal, and state policy and program information in SIIA’s Ed Policy Forum.