In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we are thankful that lawmakers have avoided a government shutdown by passing a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through December 20. Additionally, key appropriations committee members in Congress have reached a deal on spending levels for a dozen bills that fund the day-to-day operations of the federal government. Appropriators aim to pass all twelve spending bills before government funding expires on December 20.
The federal budget and appropriations process for FY20 has not followed the typical process or procedure. 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 delay their appropriations work until after reaching a budget agreement and allocating topline amounts to each of the appropriations areas. The 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.
While the details of the most recent topline agreement for Labor-HHS-Education appropriations have not been made public, we are expecting an amount between the House and Senate levels. Grassroots advocacy may be key in determining the final funding numbers for well-rounded programs.
The Senate’s original version of education funding for Fiscal Year 2020 gave Title IV-A a $50 million increase from FY19 levels to an FY20 total of $1.22 billion. The House of Representatives funded FY20 levels at $1.32 billion.
Title I-A (financial assistance to local educational agencies and schools with high percentages of children from low-income families to help children meet state academic standards) and Title II-A (professional development) would receive level funding from FY19 under the Senate’s proposal. The House version includes a $1.5 billion increase in Title I-A and a $460 million increase in Title II-A. These levels surpass what is authorized in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
While we are hopeful the strong well-rounded numbers will hold, advocacy will be necessary to ensure this. You can write to your representative here. Stay tuned for more updates as they become available.
Happy Thanksgiving from the NAfME Policy Staff. We are truly thankful for your help, support, and advocacy throughout the year.
Tooshar Swain, Assistant Director of Public Policy, November 27, 2019. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)