For the second time in less than three weeks, the government shut down. At midnight on February 8, funding for the government officially lapsed after Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) refused to allow the Senate to hold a vote on another short-term funding package. Fortunately, none of the detrimental long-term impacts of a shutdown were felt, as Congress was able to pass the bill just hours later in the early morning of February 9. This new funding package carries with it greater hope to avoid more budget politics in the future though, as tied to it is a deal to raise the defense and nondefense discretionary spending caps for the next two years. Now that the Appropriations Committees have concrete numbers, they’re able to begin writing the rest of the FY 2018 budget. They have over a month to do so, as the current short-term funding package will expire on March 23. But how will this caps deal influence education, and what does it mean for the remaining FY 2018 budget process? This article highlights the top-line budget numbers from the deal and takes a close look at its potential impacts on important education issues and programs.
Top-Line Numbers for Nondefense Discretionary Programs:
FY 2018: $63 billion above the sequester level
FY 2019: $68 billion above the sequester level
Important Policies to Note for K–12 Education:
CHIP extended another 4 years
Funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides insurance support for low-income children. The program expired in September 2017, but was reauthorized for six years earlier this year when the last short-term funding package was passed to end the previous government shutdown. The new caps deal actually extends the reauthorization of the program for another four years, making it now reauthorized for the next ten years total. By extending this program another four years, Congress has provided our nation’s highest need children and their families with some welcome relief.
Child Care and Development Block Grant receives massive influx of funds
Another positive aspect of the Senate caps deal is that the Child Care and Development Block Grant Program will receive $2.9 billion in both FY 2018 and FY 2019. This will double the discretionary funding for the program overall. These grants fund state efforts to provide child care services for low-income family members who work, train for work, attend school, or whose children receive or need to receive protective services.
The Remainder of the FY 2018 Budget Process:
While a raise in the caps is very welcome news, it doesn’t mean that all education programs will receive an increase in funding. House and Senate leadership must now come together to determine how they will split up these dollars among the appropriations bills. Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed) bills have not seen the proper amount of increases necessary to keep the education programs under them properly funded. That is why it is crucial that Labor-HHS-Ed receive the proper allocation. If this doesn’t happen, there is a real possibility that programs that aid school leaders could still see reductions in funding, or possibly be eliminated altogether. The most notable program that would benefit from a proper allocation of funds in Labor-HHS-Ed would be Title II, which provides funds to recruit, retain, and train teachers and school leaders. Because Title II is so crucial in providing educators support and it is still on the chopping block, NASSP urges you to contact your members of Congress and ask that they use this new caps deal to fund Title II at its ESSA authorized level of $2.295 billion.