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Congress passes government spending bill

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

Date Posted: 12/15/2014

Over the weekend, Congress passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill* that will fund most of the federal government through September 2015. The bill, which President Obama is expected to sign, funds the U.S. Department of Education at $70.5 billion. The funding level amounts to a $133 million decrease compared to the Department’s funding last year. Most federal education program funding remained stagnant in comparison to last year, but some programs did receive a slight increase, others experienced cuts, and a handful were completely defunded. Here is a sample of how Pre-K-12 education programs fared:

  • Both Title I program funding and funding for state special education grants were increased by $25 million to $14.4 billion and $11.5 billion, respectively.
  • Race to the Top, one of President Obama’s signature competitive grant programs for which lawmakers have continually decreased funding in recent years, was eliminated.
  • Head Start will maintain the increased funding it received in 2014 with around $8.1 billion.
  • Funding for the Teacher Incentive Fund program, a competitive grant program aimed at experimental, district-level performance pay initiatives, was decreased to $230 million (a hit of about $60 million).
  • The Child Care Development Block Grant program was increased by $75 million. The increase will help fund updates Congress made to the program last month when the program was reauthorized.
  • The Preschool Development Grant program will receive a maintained level of funding at $250 million. Texas applied for a FY 2014 grant through this program but received word last week that it had been denied up to $120 million in funding for preschool expansion. The Texas proposal included a trial voucher program that drew criticism from many education and business advocates.
  • Funding for the School Improvement Grant (SIG) program will remain at $506 million. SIG grants are intended to help low-performing schools fund and implement a turnaround model (a plan to “turnaround” or improve the school’s performance) approved by the Secretary of Education.
*The spending bill combines two types of measures Congress uses to fund the government: a continuing resolution (CR), or short-term funding bill, that merely extends current funding levels while Congress works to reach an agreement, and an omnibus spending bill that encompasses many appropriations bills and funds the government longer-term. The CR and omnibus combination bill has led journalists, Washington politicos, and lawmakers to refer to the spending bill as a "cromnibus."


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