After weeks of negotiations, a bipartisan group of lawmakers from the House and Senate have unveiled a budget proposal that would reduce the deficit while also staving off future cuts due to sequestration for the next two years.
Over the last year, sequestration – the 5% across-the-board cut to federal programs – resulted in over $600 million cut from federal special education programs.
CEC members have been vocal opponents of sequestration, informing lawmakers of the impact federal cuts have had on schools and services for children and youth with disabilities. In fact, 83% of special educators reported budget cuts are already impacting special education services, according to a just-released survey by CEC and the National Coalition on Personnel Shortages in Special Education and Related Services.
While the budget deal is far from perfect, it does provide a way to move the budget discussions forward during a time when Washington has been hamstrung by a deep partisan divide that resulted in a 16-day government shutdown earlier this year.
So, what’s in the budget deal? While details are still emerging, here’s what we know now:
- Prevents $63 Billion in additional sequestration budget cuts from taking effect for next two years, which is “paid for” by savings elsewhere in the budget ;
- Sets budget for overall discretionary spending at $1.012 trillion, which is halfway between the Senate’s budget level of $1.058 trillion and the House budget level of $967 billion;
- Reduces the deficit by approximately $20 billion.
The House of Representatives is expected to vote on this budget proposal tomorrow and action by the Senate will follow. Then, the Appropriations Committees will go to work to determine funding allocations for specific federal programs, such as special education. That work is due to be completed by January 15th, when the current ‘continuing resolution’ – the mechanism which is keeping the government operating – expires. Use CEC’s Legislative Action Center to tell lawmakers to invest in special/gifted education programs!
Read more from the leading negotiators: Rep. Paul Ryan (Chairman of the House Budget Committee, representing Republicans in the House) and Senator Patty Murray (Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, representing Democrats in these negotiations).