Special Education

Panel’s Budget Singles Out Spec. Ed. for Boost

By Erik W. Robelen — March 28, 2001 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The House is expected this week to take up a Republican budget blueprint that backs President Bush’s plans to increase education spending, but with one catch: More than $1 billion in the budget would be available only if it’s used to increase funding for special education.

Either way, Democrats said, the proposed budget plan for fiscal 2002 falls short of the much larger increase they would like to see for the Department of Education.

On a party-line vote of 23-19, the House Budget Committee last week approved the nearly $2 trillion budget resolution, a document designed to guide action on spending and tax legislation. It does not require presidential approval.

The Republican plan in most respects reflects the priorities that Mr. Bush put forward in his own budget outline, released last month.

The House bill promises more spending in selected areas, including education, money for reduction of the federal debt, and a $1.6 trillion tax cut over 10 years. In total, it would set aside $661 billion for discretionary programs in the fiscal year that begins next Oct. 1.

During the Budget Committee deliberations, Rep. Jim Nussle, R-Iowa, the new chairman of the panel, said that more money for education was one of the six main budget goals.

“We do not want to leave any child behind in our plan,” he said, echoing the title of the education blueprint—"No Child Left Behind"—that President Bush put forward just days after his inauguration.

The plan calls for $65.3 billion in discretionary budget authority for education, training, employment, and social services. Out of that total, Republicans said they would match the president’s call for $44.5 billion for the Education Department, an increase of nearly 6 percent over the current fiscal year’s $42.1 billion budget.

In an unusual move, committee Republicans included language creating a “reserve fund” for special education.

Push for Special Education

Under that provision, $1.25 billion of the discretionary spending would only be available if it was used to increase special education funding, which is more than $6 billion. Increased federal aid for special education has been a top budget priority of GOP lawmakers in recent years.

Joel Packer, a senior lobbyist for the National Education Association, was critical of the tactic.

“What they did is not only not helpful ... it’s harmful,” he said. “There’s just not going to be enough room to do the things Bush said he wants to do. I just don’t see how this works.”

During committee deliberations, Democrats offered a series of amendments, including one that would have called for an additional increase in the amount of discretionary spending for education programs by $4.2 billion to pay for class-size reduction, school renovation, and increased Pell Grants, among other purposes. The Democratic amendment also sought to support federal tax credits at a cost of $6.8 billion over 10 years to help leverage $25 billion in school construction bonds. But nearly all the Democratic amendments were defeated along party lines.

A summary accompanying the proposed budget blueprint indicates that the resolution would accommodate Mr. Bush’s call for $44.5 billion for the Education Department next fiscal year. Of that, the summary supports a tripling of spending on reading programs—from nearly $300 million this year to $900 million in fiscal 2002, with $5 billion available over five years. It also backs the president’s call for $2.6 billion to improve teacher quality next year.

In addition, the summary says the budget resolution would support Mr. Bush’s plans for some tax-related measures for education, such as a tenfold increase in the annual contribution ceiling for education savings accounts. Under the proposal, the accounts could be used for both K-12 and higher education expenses. Currently, only higher education expenses are permitted.

The Senate is expected to take up its version of the budget resolution in early April.

Democrats also sought to win support for an amendment to commit the Budget Committee to fully fund the maximum federal share of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act by 2007, but their efforts were rebuffed.

The federal government set out to pay up to 40 percent of the national average for per-pupil expenditures for educating such students when it passed the law in 1975, but has never come close to that goal.

“We were extremely disappointed with the special education vote,” said Jordan Cross, a legislative specialist for the American Association of School Administrators, noting that some of the Republicans who opposed the amendment have been active proponents of fully funding special education. “They’re going to have to explain that to their constituents.”

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the March 28, 2001 edition of Education Week as Panel’s Budget Singles Out Spec. Ed. for Boost

Events

Budget & Finance Webinar Staffing Schools After ESSER: What School and District Leaders Need to Know
Join our newsroom for insights on investing in critical student support positions as pandemic funds expire.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How can districts build sustainable tutoring models before the money runs out?
District leaders, low on funds, must decide: broad support for all or deep interventions for few? Let's discuss maximizing tutoring resources.
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
College & Workforce Readiness Webinar
Roundtable Webinar: Why We Created a Portrait of a Graduate
Hear from three K-12 leaders for insights into their school’s Portrait of a Graduate and learn how to create your own.
Content provided by Otus

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Special Education Explainer A Guide to Special Education Terms
The number of students in special education has increased steadily in the last four decades. Here are some of the common terms used.
7 min read
Glossary abstract concept open book with special education iconography
Vanessa Solis/Education Week + iStock/Getty Images
Special Education The Pros and Cons of AI in Special Education
AI can make special educators' jobs easier by handling paperwork and serving as an adaptive tool. But there are privacy and other concerns.
9 min read
Student being assisted by AI
Nicole Xu for Education Week
Special Education From Our Research Center What Happens for High Schoolers Who Need More Than 4 Years?
Districts work to serve older students longer than four years to plan for a changing career world.
6 min read
Older student facing the city, younger version is being swept away.
Nicole Xu for Education Week
Special Education These Grants Could Help Students With Disabilities Access Jobs, Training
The Ed. Dept. is investing $236 million to help with transitions to careers and post-secondary education.
3 min read
Collage of a woman in a wheelchair on a road leading to a large dollar sign. In the woman's hair is a ghosted photo of hands on a laptop.
Collage by Gina Tomko/Education Week + Getty