It’s October 11 – Happy Federal Fiscal New Year! It’s a new federal fiscal year (FY20), and we have started another year without final allocations for federal agencies and programs, including federal funding for a well-rounded education.
The federal budget and appropriations process for FY20 has been complicated, to say the least. The House of Representatives began their appropriations process early in the year but did so without an overall budget agreement with the Senate and the President. The absence of a “topline” budget amount resulted in generous education funding numbers in the House Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill.
Meanwhile, the Senate decided to wait on their appropriations work until after reaching a budget agreement and allocating topline amounts to each of the appropriations areas. The agreement was signed by the President prior to the August recess. This budget agreement set domestic discretionary spending at around $7 billion less than the House’s allotment. The lower overall budget number, an allocation of funding for the U.S. Census, and a commitment by Senate leadership to fund a wall on the southern border all influenced the Senate to allocate about $5 billion less in education funding than did the House.
Thankfully, in large part because of the advocacy efforts of NAfME members, Title IV-A received increased funding in both the House and Senate bills. Other well-rounded programs found in Titles I and II received increased funding in the House and level funding in the Senate:
President’s FY20 Budget Request
FY20 House Passed Bill
Current Senate Approps Bill
|NAfME Legislative Request|
Title IV, Part A
Title I, Part A
Title II, Part A
Arts in Education
What Comes Next?
Knowing that the House and Senate would not complete the appropriations process for FY20 before the end of the fiscal year, both chambers passed and the President signed a continuing resolution that funds the government at current levels until November 21, 2019. The hope is that both chambers can pass their remaining appropriations bills and reconcile differences in spending levels. Failure to do so would result in a government shutdown, unless another short-term continuing resolution is signed. Recognizing the difficulty of the task ahead, some lawmakers have floated the possibility of a continuing resolution to extend current funding levels until after the 2020 election.
Senate Democrats have also requested that domestic spending levels be amended to more closely reflect the House’s numbers, as well as go through regular order with an amendment process. Senate Republicans believe the amendments being considered are political poison pills that will delay the process even further.
Next Steps for Well-Rounded Education Funding
While Congress appears to understand the importance of well-rounded educational programs, it remains important to raise awareness and continue to strongly advocate for these programs.
Congress recognized the importance of Title IV-A by providing $1.1 billion in Fiscal Year 2018 and $1.17 billion in Fiscal Year 2019. At these funding levels, districts are receiving substantial funds and have the flexibility to make meaningful investments in the program areas which they have identified as representing the most vital needs of their students and schools. These include increasing access to music education for students who have not been able to participate in music programs due to funding, scheduling, or personnel limitations.
However, in his FY20 budget request, the President requested that Title IV-A be eliminated. President Trump also requested the elimination of Title II-A, the main federal funding source for professional development for educators and school leaders. In addition, the President’s budget requested portability of Title I-A funds that would likely remove monies from high-poverty schools where Title I funds typically provide needed supplemental programs for children, including arts integration and music programs.
NAfME members can help raise awareness and advocate for a well-rounded education by joining the Title IV-A Coalition’s Call-to-Action on November 6 to persuade Congress to continue increasing this vital program. Members of more than 60 organizations will advocate in support of this vital program that helps create student achievement. As we move closer to November 6, we will provide more detailed information on how to be involved.
Tooshar Swain, Assistant Director of Public Policy, October 11, 2019. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)