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Obey Defends Cuts to Race to the Top, Charters, TIF

In the wake of President Barack Obama's veto threat, Rep. David R. Obey, D-Wis., the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, defended his proposal to cut $800 million from the administration's education priorities to help pay for education jobs.

A fact sheet released by Obey's office says all of the money would come from new grants, so no one currently receiving funding would lose it. And it says there is no reason the programs couldn't see those funding levels restored in better economic times.

Then it takes each of the programs separately:

*Charters: The charter funding comes entirely from grants for new schools in an effort to defer "some funding for new activities and new starts, to address a more urgent need," the memo says. And, it says, there will still be $156 million left for new grants, which is more than twice the amount needed to cover existing grants.

*Teacher Incentive Fund: Even after taking $200 million out of the Teacher Incentive Fund, there will still be $400 million left, Obey's memo says. That's because the program got a major boost in fiscal year 2010 ($400 million), plus $200 million under the stimulus. Most of the money would be for brand new grants.

*Race to the Top: After taking $500 million out of the fund, there will still be $3.2 billion left, Obey's office says. Of course, the memo doesn't mention that the department has already set aside $350 million for a state assessment grant competition. If the offset passes and the department decides to keep the assessment program the same, the fund would have only $2.9 billion for new state grants.

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