House Appropriations Committee Unveils Federal Education Spending Proposal

The U.S. House Appropriations Committee today released a draft of the Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) funding bill for fiscal year 2016, which will be considered in what is known as a “markup” session in subcommittee tomorrow (6/17). The draft bill includes funding for programs within the federal Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and other related agencies.

The allocations in the bill are based on the House budget resolution that passed on a party-line vote with only Republicans voting in favor and no Democrats voting to support.

According to descriptions provided by the House committee, the draft bill includes a total of $153 billion in discretionary funding, which is a reduction of $3.7 billion below the fiscal year 2015 enacted level and $14.6 billion below the President’s budget request.

The draft bill funds the federal Department of Education at $64.4 billion, which is $2.8 billion below the fiscal year 2015 level and $6.4 billion below the President’s budget request.

According to descriptions provided by the committee, here are highlights of some of the key provisions:

  • Title I – The bill includes $14.9 billion for in total funding for Title I programs. (Title I, Part A is the largest source of federal education funding. The goal of Title I is to improve achievement in high-poverty schools by providing additional academic support and learning opportunities for the education of low achieving, disadvantaged students.)
  • Special Education – The bill includes $13 billion in total funding for IDEA, including $12 billion for IDEA special education grants to states, an increase of more than $500 million over the fiscal year 2015 enacted level, which will increase the federal share of special education funding to states from 16 percent to 17 percent.
  • Charter Schools Program – The bill includes an increase of $22 million over the fiscal year 2015 enacted level for grants to support the creation of new charter schools, for a total of $275 million.
  • Impact Aid – The bill provides nearly $1.3 billion for Impact Aid, an increase of $10 million above the current enacted level.
  • Policy Provisions – The bill also includes several policy provisions, including provisions prohibiting the Department of Education from moving forward with regulations to establish a college ratings system, place new requirements on teacher preparation, define “gainful employment” and “credit hour,” and dictate how states must license institutions of higher education.