5/4/2017 Update: The Senate has passed the Omnibus spending agreement. Also receiving overwhelming support, the final vote count was 79-18. The spending proposal now heads to President Trump’s desk, where he is expected to sign it into law, preventing a government shutdown ahead of Friday’s fiscal deadline.
5/3/2017 Update: The House of Representatives has passed the Omnibus spending agreement for FY17. The final vote count was 309-118, and now heads to the Senate.
Late Sunday evening, Congress unveiled its bipartisan Omnibus spending agreement, which will fund all federal discretionary programs through the remainder of the current Fiscal Year, FY17.
Under this spending agreement, the Department of Education (ED) will receive $68.2 billion in funding, a $1.7 billion cut decrease from FY16. If the bill were to be passed today, below are the funding levels for education programs that are essential to music education:
|Federal Education Programs||FY17 Omnibus Appropriations||FY16 Enacted|
|Title I, Part A**||$15.460 billion||$14.910 billion|
|Title II, Part A||$2.056 billion||$2.350 billion|
|Title IV, Part A||$400 million||$1.65 billion (authorized)|
|Arts in Education||$27 million||$27 million|
|Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)||$12.830 billion||12.722 million|
|21st Century Community Learning Centers||$1.192 billion||$1.667 billion|
**It is important to note under ESSA, School Improvement Grants (SIG) were eliminated and states are now required to reserve 7 percent of Title I, Part A funds to support school improvement in the place of this elimination. This proposed funding level factors in the combined total of Title I, Part A, and the SIG program funding FY16, plus an additional $100 million in funding.
Title IV, Part A
Unfortunately, Congress will appropriate only $400 million for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) grant program found in Title IV, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). SSAE is one of the new opportunities created within ESSA that may used to provide states and school districts supplemental funding to three broad areas:
- Providing students access to a well-rounded education (e.g. music and arts),
- Supporting safe and healthy students (e.g. comprehensive school mental health, drug and violence prevention, training on trauma-informed practices, health and physical education) and
- Supporting the effective use of technology (professional development, blended learning,
Originally, supplemental funding provided by SSAE was supposed to be provided in a formula-to-formula basis, where most school districts would receive some funding to support the three broad areas. Unfortunately, the current funding proposal severely under funds this major flexible block grant. For that reason as a one year solution, the Omnibus bill provides additional language, which allows states, at an optional basis, to distribute the grant on a formula to competitive basis, under the given circumstances:
- The grant is awarded in a manner than ensures geographic diversity by distributing to rural, suburban, and urban areas.
- The state must maintain the 20-20-60 set-aside percentages. At least 20% of funds are distributed to districts for well-rounded programs, 20% for safe and healthy programs, and the remaining 60% for any or all three of the programs (safe and healthy, well-rounded, technology).
- A district can apply for one, two, or three of the set-aside “buckets” of funding, and must complete a needs assessment as part of the application process, in order to receive funds from the state.
- The minimum grant award is $10,000 and the duration is only for one year.
- There is a 25% cap on technology infrastructure purchases; if a state chooses to distribute the grant by formula, the original 15% cap on technology remains.
The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) has released a statement regarding our disappointment concerning the under funding of Title IV, Part A. See here for the full statement. NAfME continues to be on the forefront of advocacy efforts for the full funding of SSAE in FY2018.
In addition, Congress’ appropriations agreement funds both the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) at $150 million, a $2 million increase from the previous fiscal year for each agency. The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) continues to support the NEA and NEH, and advocates for their continued funding as they provide significant attention and support for the broader music and arts community. See our recent statement regarding the NEA’s funding situation for FY18 here.
- Full Spending Agreement Bill Text, H.R. 244
- Rules Committee Explanatory Statement for Division H – Labor, HHS, Education and other related agencies
- Rules Committee Explanatory Statement for Division G – Interior and Environment (Houses funding for NEA and NEH)
Ronny Lau, Public Policy Advisor, May 1, 2017. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org).