Last week, the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee approved its version of the FY 2011 appropriations bill. In his opening written remarks for the subcommittee’s session, Chairman David R. Obey (D-WI) said, “Because of budget considerations, this bill cannot adequately fund programs that are crucial to people most in need. But the bill tries within constraints to give top priority to the most important problems.”
Here is how the proposed funding looks for early education and some of the U.S. Department of Education’s new competitive grant programs compared to last year’s appropriations and the President’s budget request:
FY 2011 Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations Subcommittee
by the President
Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG)
Race to the Top (RTTT)*
Investing in Innovation (i3)
* (While RTTT does include early learning as an “invitational” priority, no points are attached—no points, no funding. However, with the FY 2011 funding, priorities may change. The Early Education Initiative would like to see it included at the very least as a competitive priority as it is in the i3 program.)
These proposed levels (with the exception of RTTT and i3 -- which are new programs made possible through 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding -- and Title I funding) are higher than the fiscal year 2010 appropriations, but are less than what was requested by President Obama. The increases would include additional funding for early education programs: $700 million more is proposed for CCDBG and nearly $900 million more for Head Start
. If passed by Congress, the additional funding would likely allow states and Head Start grantees to continue serving the additional children and centers funded by the ARRA.
It’s important to keep in mind that this is just one early step in a long budget process. Nevertheless, at the very least, the tables provide a window into where priorities are in a year when Congress has not followed the typical budget process. The process usually starts with the president’s budget request and then with the passage of a budget resolution by the House and Senate budget committees. The resolution is an agreement between the two legislative chambers establishing both spending and revenue levels for each respective fiscal year for at least the five upcoming fiscal years. This year is a little different.
A few weeks ago, the House, through a procedural vote related to its fiscal year 2010 Supplemental Appropriations Bill, set a federal spending cap for federal discretionary spending of $1.121 trillion (which does not include war spending) for fiscal year 2011 spending. This amount is $13 billion less than what the President requested in his fiscal year 2011 budget-- $1.134 trillion. Then, also last week, the Senate appropriations committee set its own spending cap for federal discretionary spending at $1.114 trillion (also does not include war spending) -- $7 billion less than the House’s cap and $20 billion less than the President’s request. Sound confusing and complicated? Well, it is.
Again, there’s still a lot of work to do on the federal budget. So, while these proposed funding levels are worth reporting, they will likely change before it’s all said and done. The House appropriations bill still needs to be approved by the full House Appropriations Committee then by the full House. Then, of course, there is the possibility that the Senate could have other priorities.
Something else we noticed: no mention of the Early Learning Challenge Fund. Still, funding is not out of the realm of possibility. As of today, only the summary funding tables have been posted. The Early Learning Challenge Fund could be rolled into one of line items highlighted in the summary.
UPDATE 7/21: For more information on Congressional action on the federal education budget this summer, see the brief released today by New America’s Federal Education Budget Project.(Also note that this update clarifies that the subcommittee’s proposed Title I funding level is higher than what the President requested.)