Although our newly sworn-in President, Donald J. Trump, has yet to provide an official budget with his funding priorities for this fiscal year (FY), media reports say that his team has started outlining plans “for shrinking the federal bureaucracy.” Dramatic spending cuts are expected, and education programs will certainly not be immune.
The Hill says that Trump’s team likely will implement a budget that aligns closely with “a blueprint published last year by the conservative Heritage Foundation.” The blueprint’s proposals would reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion within the next decade if enacted, and proposes deeper cuts than any other FY2017 budget proposal. White House staff are working closely with Vice President Mike Pence and notorious budget hawks Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to release an official proposal that would significantly reign in spending by “the end of Trump’s first 100 days in office, or by mid- to late April.”
So what does the Heritage Foundation’s blueprint suggest? Here are some recommendations for program/policy cuts that will affect K–12 education, sorted by agency. The list comes from two blueprint documents on appropriations and Administration priorities that Heritage Foundation advises Trump to consider over the coming weeks.
- Repeal Obama Administration Title IX guidance on gender identity for compliance purposes.
- Expand Education Savings Account access for Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) school students.
- Clarify that federal K–12 funding will not be conditioned on states having uniform standards and assessments (e.g., Common Core).
- Allow Title I funding portability so that dollars may “follow children to the schools or education options of their parents’ choice.”
- Reduce Head Start funding to make way for state/local alternatives annually by 10%, starting in FY2017 until the program sunsets in 2026.
- Eliminate redundant/ineffective Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) competitive grant programs.
- Reduce Education Department spending by 10% on K–12 formula grant programs (e.g., Title I).
- Eliminate contribution caps on Coverdell Savings Accounts for K–12 education expenses.
- Reduce the federal role in school meal programs. The Agriculture Secretary and Congress should reform the law, only keep minimal federal requirements, and incorporate a parent- and local-driven approach.
- Eliminate the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) to expand free-meal access to all students; provide free meals only for students “from low-incomes families who truly need them.”
- Prohibit funding for implementing/enforcing school meal nutrition standards.
Health and Human Services
- Repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and enact new “patient-centered” and “market-based” healthcare reforms.
- Reform health insurance tax provisions, restore Medicaid “as a true safety net for the poor,” and remove regulatory/policy obstacles discouraging competition in health insurance and services.
- Transition “able-bodied, low-income individuals and families out of Medicaid and into the private health insurance market” while providing states with greater program flexibility.
- Sunset the Head Start program and restore revenue responsibility for preschool programs to the states.
Halt the new overtime regulations by having Congress deny funding for implementation and enforcement.
- Financial Services and General Government.
Expand the Washington D.C. Opportunity Scholarship private voucher program, and redirect existing/additional funding from Washington, D.C., public schools to the voucher program.
- Homeland Security.
Reduce funding for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund for assisting state/local governments and return responsibility for disasters to state/local government levels. Change the cost share provision so that there is greater cost share for large catastrophes but requirements for states to take responsibility for more localized disasters.
- Social Security Administration.
Set an agenda to reform Social Security to relieve younger generations of “undue tax and debt burdens from excessive entitlement spending” and “protect America’s elderly and individuals with disabilities from poverty.”
- Interior, Environment, & Related.
- Eliminate the National Clean Diesel Campaign (NCDC)/Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grants for developing clean diesel technology and paying for new/retrofitted school buses, engines, generators, etc.
- Eliminate unnecessary programs such as EPA categorical grants, revolving funds for water infrastructure projects, sustainable/livable communities programs, indoor air quality (IAQ) and environmental education programs, etc.
- Prohibit any agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions per the Obama Administration’s proposed emission regulations regarding vehicles, heavy-duty trucks, etc., and increasing zero-emission and hybrid vehicle use. Revoke Executive Orders (EO) 13693 and 13624 and refrain from developing new energy efficiency standards unless Congress passes legislation to do so.
While it’s possible the Trump Administration won’t follow through with all of the Heritage Foundation’s proposals, education program funding won’t be safe to say the least. In Trump’s inaugural speech, he argued that America’s K–12 education system is “flush with cash,” touting a common GOP talking point that federal education doesn’t need more investment, federal dollars only need to be spent more wisely (i.e., on school choice programs). However, these claims contradict facts, as a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) report found that most states have cut school funding and are continuing to do so, unable to recover to pre-Recession levels.
For more updates on President Trump’s budget and policy priorities, stay tuned to ASBO International’s Legislative Affairs Community on the Global School Business Network.