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Budget Deal Addresses Flint, Vouchers; Punts on Big K-12 Funding Issues

A short-term budget deal to keep the government running addresses the water contamination in cities like Flint, Mich., as well as funding for school vouchers in the District of Columbia, but does not otherwise contain significant changes for education. 

The continuing resolution introduced in Congress on Tuesday will expire on April 28 next year. It is esentially a stop-gap designed to allow the House and Senate to hash out a long-term budget deal after President-elect Donald Trump takes office in January.

The short-term budget will therefore leave education funding advocates and others waiting for several more months to see the new direction that Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress will take spending for disadvantaged students, a new block grant created under the Every Student Succeeds Act intended to fund a diverse set of programs, and more. 

Included in the budget resolution is $170 million for cities suffering water treatment issues like Flint, where last year it was discovered that several hundred children had high levels of lead in their blood, a condition linked to a variety of health problems such as delays in development. However, the Hill newspaper also reported Tuesday that the separate water resources bill that would authorize this funding could be at risk. 

Also included in the resolution is a requirement that unspent funds for D.C. vouchers provided the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act be made available. The resolution states that at least 95 percent of these unspent funds to provide additional scholarships for students, while administrative expenses for the vouchers can use up no more than 5 percent.


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