On January 14, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees released a compromise Fiscal Year 2014 omnibus spending bill, which includes $70.6 billion for the Department of Education. Surprisingly, this amount reflects an overall decrease of $739 million compared to Fiscal Year 2013. We expect Congress to approve the legislation no later than Saturday (please note that the current continuing resolution expires on Wednesday, so Congress plans to pass a 3 day continuing resolution to fund government operations until the Omnibus can be approved and signed by the president). Assuming the bill is not unexpectedly derailed, this will be the first time in nearly two years since the last Labor-HHS Appropriations bill was negotiated program by program and passed by Congress.
We have not yet reviewed every line of the Department of Education’s allocations and not all documentation (including most importantly the more detailed Joint Explanatory Statement) has been published by the committees, but we want to provide an early look at the major formula and competitive grant programs (see attached summary table for more information).
· The bill extended a long standing exemption for the E-rate program (and the broader Universal Service System) from the Anti-deficiency Act. Absent the exemption, the FCC would be forced to significantly change how the E-rate is administered, particularly with regard to the agency’s timing for obligating and investing program funds.
· The bill provides $14.4 billion for ESEA Title I, which represents an increase of approximately $624 million compared to FY’13.
· The bill provides $505 million for the School Improvement Grants program (flat funding). Significantly, the Omnibus includes language permitting states to propose state-developed school improvement models for the Secretary’s approval (moving beyond the four school improvement models presently required under the SIG regulations).
· The bill provides $368 million for the State Assessments program, which represents an increase of approximately $9 million.
· The bill provides just over $1 billion for Career and Technical Education, which represents an increase of $53 million compared to FY’13
· The bill provided $2.3 billion for the Teacher Quality State grants program, which represents an increase of $12 million.
· The bill provides $10.9 billion for the IDEA State Grants program, which represents an increase of $497 million compared to FY’13.
· The bill provides $34.5 million for the State Longitudinal Data Systems ($34 million decrease compared to FY’13).
· The bill provides $250 million for the Race to the Top program. Despite the Administration’s request to focus the program on higher education innovation, the FY’14 competition will be focused on helping States develop, enhance or expand high quality preschool programs for children ages 4 and over and from low- and moderate income families or for other State early learning activities that improve the quality of such programs. The Omnibus also provided significant increases for the Head Start, Early Head Start, and Child Care and Development Block Grant programs.