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House Education Spending Plan's Cuts Less Severe Than Trump Budget

The House spending bill that would fund the U.S. Department of Education for the coming budget year seems to mostly ignore the school choice proposals put forward by President Donald Trump and would cut overall spending at the U.S. Department of Education by less that the president proposes.

The bill, released on Wednesday, would provide $66 billion for the department, down $2.4 billion from the current budget. By contrast, the Trump adminstration wanted a $9.2 billion cut, down to $59 billion. However, at least a few big-ticket K-12 programs are saved from the budget ax. The legislation would not fund the $1 billion public school choice program the president proposed in his fiscal 2018 spending blueprint. Nor does it appear to provide any money to the $250 million in state grants to support private school choice that Trump also sought.

State grants for special education, meanwhile, would get a $200 million increase from this year (fiscal 2017) up to $12.2 billion, while traditional Title I funding for districts would essentially remain flat at $15.9 billion. Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos are seeking a small cut for special education grants, while they sought to keep traditional Title I aid at $14.9 billion, separate from the $1 billion choice program they want under Title I.

House appropriators went along with the Trump team's push to increase charter school grants. But whereas Trump and DeVos want a 50 percent increase for those grants, up to $500 million, the House bill would only provide a $28 million bump up to $370 million.

Also getting an increase from current spending levels: the $400 million Title IV block grant, which would fund a variety of school programs covering everything from ed-tech to student well-being. Trump wants to cut it entirely, but the House bill would increase its funding to $500 million. 

Funding for the department's office for civil rights, which like special education has been the focus of much scrutiny during DeVos' tenure, would remain essentially flat at $109 million. 

The House appropriations subcommittee for education will hold a hearing on the bill Thursday. We'll have more details as they become available. 

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