The Senate continues the budget battle this week with the consideration of the Labor, Health, and Human Services Appropriations bill, which sets levels for education spending, as well as other key domestic programs. President Bush has already stated he plans to veto the bill because it provides $64.9 billion for the Education Department.
Bush’s proposed budget appropriates only $61 billion—$3.9 billion less than Congress’ budget and $1.3 billion less than the Education Department received last year.
The Bush administration, in the same year that it is spends $10 billion each month on operations in Iraq, plans on vetoing a bill because it increases funding for American schools by $2.6 billion, among other domestic budget increases. What’s even more surprising is that Education Secretary Margaret Spellings actually announced back in February that Bush’s newly proposed budget would increase education funding by 41 percent relative to 2001. A look at the president’s budget tells a different story.
As the map below shows, 44 out of 50 states would see reductions in federal funding for elementary and secondary education for fiscal year 2008 if the Bush administration go its way. Rather than bold increases, states on average will see a -1.4 percent decrease in elementary and secondary school funding.
Elementary and Secondary Education Funding Under President Bush’s Proposed Budget
Red states: Would receive less funding than in FY2007
Green states: Would receive more funding than in FY2007
Some educational programs would see increases this year under Bush's budget. Higher education would see much needed boosts in Pell Grants and education loans, for example. And even a few elementary and secondary education programs would see increases from last year's budget, including an additional $375 million for school improvement grants, $1 billion for Elementary and Secondary Education Act grants, and $250 million for promise grants.
Yet others would be significantly rolled back or eliminated entirely. Reading First, teacher quality, education technology, and Safe and Drug Free School programs are all facing serious cutbacks under Bush's budget. And the Even Start program, which offers grants to support local family literacy projects for low-income families, would be axed entirely, as well as comprehensive school reform programs.
It’s time for President Bush to heed the call of the American people, the majority of whom strongly support budget increases for education, and allow the Labor Health and Human Services Appropriations bill to pass through Congress without a veto. We need to get back to focusing funding on key domestic issues; and we should start with education.
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