The fight over the federal debt ceiling and deficit reduction took an ominous turn for educators last week with the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage – on a razor-thin 217-215 vote – of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023. In exchange for raising the federal debt ceiling until March 31, 2024, and thereby preventing the federal government from defaulting on its loan payments, this bill would cap overall fiscal year 2024 spending at fiscal year 2022 levels and allow only 1% in spending increases in each of the next nine years. The bill has other poison pill provisions, including those that would block climate change provisions that passed as part of Inflation Reduction Act 2022 and the student loan forgiveness plan. As a result, the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate is unlikely to consider it and, even if the Senate did take up and pass this bill, President Biden has vowed to veto it.
Still, the specter of deep funding cuts next year for Title II-A and very limited funding increases going forward for the next nine years has alarmed Learning Forward. Most significantly, the proposed cuts would be felt unevenly, with education programs being among the domestic programs that would likely bear the brunt of the cuts. One reason is that congressional Republicans insist that the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Veterans Administration budgets would be exempt from cuts and might even receive increases in the federal appropriations process that would occur after Congress agrees on an overall funding level.
This leads us to be concerned that Title II-A could be squarely in the crosshairs of appropriators if this bill becomes law. Indeed, with the White House estimating that all domestic discretionary programs would be in line for 22% cuts under the current bill, Title II-A could receive a cut of $481.8 million next year. This would drop available funds from $2.190 billion in fiscal year 2023 to $1.708 billion in fiscal year 2024.
These are devastating numbers. If these cuts come to pass, they would wreak havoc on the essential professional learning opportunities available to educators around the country. The cuts could lead to hiring freezes, if not outright layoffs, for educators, including instructional coaches. They could not only stall efforts to make up for pandemic learning loss and stem the teacher shortage, but even lead to more learning loss and an increased exodus of teachers from the profession.If these cuts come to pass, they would wreak havoc on the essential professional learning opportunities available to educators around the country. Learning Forward is pushing hard to prevent these cuts. Click To Tweet
For these reasons, Learning Forward is pushing hard to prevent these cuts. But we will need all hands on deck to steer the education budget safely into port. Next month, we will be reaching out to all of you to write to your members of Congress and urge that they not support cutting education, particularly Title II-A. We will also be holding a high-profile congressional briefing in June that will make the case for continued investments in Title II-A. We have our work cut out for us but, together, we can stop these potentially disastrous cuts.