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Education Spending and the Candidates

From contributing blogger Alyson Klein:

One of my beats here at Education Week is the federal budget. And this year, Congress has been unusually sluggish (even for Congress) at getting going on education spending bills. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings hasn't even testified in the Senate yet on President Bush's education budget proposal - an event that usually happens in early spring.

Congress is dragging its feet on appropriations legislation, particularly the controversial bill that finances education, in part because they don't want to go through another veto-dance with President Bush. Democrats are betting if the next president is from their party, they'll get the increases they're looking for.

But if the next president is Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the presumptive Republican nominee ... Democrats might have a tough time. McCain wants to freeze discretionary spending for a year, according to this New York Times article. And it's unclear yet how his proposals to slash spending mentioned in the article would effect education since we don't know much about McCain's policies yet. But from what I've read so far, it's unlikely we would see major increases for Title I and other education programs. It would be nice to get more specificity on those proposed cuts as the general election approaches - but given the nature of elections, that's probably not gonna happen.

Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, has said that President Bush's unwillingness to boost education spending has poisoned the well on the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind Act. I wonder if that argument - no policy compromises without more money - would hold up through four years of a McCain administration.

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