President Obama Releases His Final Budget

President Barack Obama has unveiled his final White House budget on Tuesday, February 9, laying his spending priorities for the upcoming fiscal year (FY 2017), which begins on October 1st, 2016. Overall, President Obama’s budget once again strongly emphasizes on domestic programs, including $1 billion to research cures for cancer, Medicaid expansion, and a plan for building 21st century clean energy systems. However, many analysts have deemed this budget to be “dead before arrival,” due to 2016 not only being President Obama’s last year in office, but also being an election year where likely not much will be accomplished in this session of Congress.

Suggested Education Funding Levels

It is important to know the President’s budget is non-binding, as well as a guideline for Congress when they draft their appropriations bills. If Congress were to abide by the President’s recommendations, under the this budget proposal, the Department of Education would receive $69.4 billion in discretionary funding for FY 2017, a $1.3 billion increase. Below are funding levels for programs that are essential and related to music education, if Congress were to pass spending bills that follow the President’s requests:

  • Title I
    • $15.4 billion; $450 million increase from FY 2016 levels. However, it is important to know that “School Improvement Grants” have been eliminated and consolidated into Title I under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), therefore the funding is level on a technicality based on FY 2017 Title I and SIG appropriations.  In addition, ESSA has increased State school improvement set-aide from 4% to 7%.
  • Assistance for Arts Education (formerly, Arts in Education) 
    • $27 million, level funding as FY 2016
  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers
    • $1 billion; $167 million decrease from FY 2016.
  • Pell Grants
    • Maximum award estimated to be $5,935 in award year 2017/2018.
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) State Grants
    • $11.9 billion, level funding:
      • $80 million increased for the IDEA Preschool Grants and IDEA Infants and Families program, combined.
  • Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants
    • $500 million; This new program, also known as Title IV(A), was created as a block grant by the “Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA); it is utilized to help states and school districts better serve disadvantaged students, including providing access to well-rounded education subjects, which includes music.  Despite being a new program, it is important to note that the ESSA authorized level for Title IV (A) was $1.65 billion, while the President’s budget only recommends $500 million, which pales in comparison.

Health & Human Services Programs

  • Preschool Development Grants
    • $350 million, a $100 million increase from FY 2016;
  • Head Start
    • $9.6 billion, $434 million increase from FY 2016.

As always, NAfME policy staff will continue to monitor these developments and provide updates on the developments of funding for these essential education programs.

Ronny Lau, Legislative Policy Advisor, Center for Advocacy, Policy, and Constituency Engagement, February 9, 2016. © National Association for Music Education (