Obama Administration Budget Update

President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget proposes an increase of $3.1 billion for the Department of Education. The president’s request includes a major new investment in early learning, with $75 billion in mandatory funds for Preschool for All, and increases to Early Head Start, Head Start and IDEA grants for infants and families.

The proposal also would prevent further education layoffs and restore many educator jobs that have been lost. In addition, it includes a major increase to the School Leadership program of $98 million. This is the only federal initiative directly addressing the difficulty of attracting and retaining high-quality candidates to positions as principals in high-need districts, and helps ensure principals are included in ongoing professional development. The $98 million request is triple the amount the program has been funded at in the past.

While AFSA is pleased with the budget’s overall increase in education investments, we are concerned with the proposal to slash Social Security benefits by $130 billion and shift $64 billion in health care costs to Medicare beneficiaries over the next 10 years.

Immediately after the release of President Obama’s FY 14 budget, AFSA President Diann Woodard released a statement expressing her concern over the cuts in these programs, saying “We are pleased the request includes additional revenues, but it does far too much harm to workers and asks far too little of the biggest, most profitable corporations.

“Public employees did not cause the recent economic collapse,” she said, “yet time and again they are being asked to bear the heaviest burden by having their earned benefits and retirement security whittled away.”

AFSA also urged members through an Action Alert to contact the president and express opposition to the plan to cut cost-of-living increases for current and future Social Security beneficiaries.

Barak Obama, image from iStock Photos

Barak Obama, image from iStock Photos

 

Continuing Resolution/House and Senate Budgets

In March, Congress passed the current continuing resolution (CR), which funds the federal government through Sept. 30, 2013. It also locks in the 5 percent across-the-board reductions required by sequestration, slashing funding for the Department of Education by $2.5 billion.

Additionally, the House and Senate adopted their budget resolutions for FY 2014. They are starkly different.

The House plan (H.Con.Res. 25) sponsored by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), calls for transferring the defense sequester to domestic programs and reducing discretionary spending for critical programs overall. This could reduce funding for the Department of Education by $7.7 billion on top of the $2.5 billion in FY 2013 sequester cuts, and also wipe out Head Start and other critical discretionary programs. It also calls for cutting Medicaid, partially privatizing Medicare and lays the groundwork for future cuts to Social Security. On March 20, 2013, AFSA President Diann Woodard sent a letter to the full House expressing strong opposition to this proposal.

The Senate plan (S.Con.Res. 8), by Senate Budget Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.), would replace the 2013 sequester with a combination of new revenue and spending cuts. The proposal would increase revenue by $975 over 10 years to help stabilize the nation’s debt.

AFSA supports the proposal by Sen. Murray, which would protect and strengthen investments in education and critical social programs while taking a balanced approach to reducing the nation’s deficit.