Trump’s budget focuses on cuts to ed, with one big add

Seeking to revive national interest in trade careers, the president’s proposed budget for fiscal year (FY) 2021 seeks a $900 million increase for career and technical education (CTE). But the jump in CTE funding would come amidst significant cuts to other programs important for many community colleges.

Although some of the increase to CTE would go specifically toward secondary programs, $680 million would go to the basic state grants program, which would receive a total of $2 billion. That money is divided between secondary and postsecondary according to the split determined in a given state. Splits, on average, are about 60 percent for secondary schools and 40 percent for postsecondary schools, according to the American Association of Community Colleges.

While CTE advocates said the increase is long overdue after more than a decade of decreased funding for CTE programs, several noted that they are disappointed to see that the budget proposal would cut overall education funding so significantly  by 7.8 percent for Education Department (ED) programs and 10.7 percent for Department of Labor (DOL) programs.

“CTE aligns with and leverages other education, workforce and social services programs. Consolidation and cuts to those programs mean the loss of critical, complementary supports needed to ensure each learner can be successful in their education and career pathway,” Advance CTE said in a statement.

Same programs targeted

Like last year, the budget proposal is likely to be dead on arrival in the House. Still, the administration has targeted some of the same higher education programs as it previously did. Several of those programs even saw increases in December when Congress and the president approved compromise appropriations bills. For example, the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and Federal Work-Study programs would see their funding for FY 2021 cut substantially.

The president also would again try to eliminate funding for the Strengthening Institutions Program and substantially cut funding for TRIO programs, which have had strong support in both parties in Congress. The proposal also called to transition TRIO into a block grant that ED would provide directly to states.

The budget also again includes two proposals that have continued to gain traction in Congress and among stakeholders: expanding Pell Grant eligibility to high-quality, short-term training programs and also for certain incarcerated students.

On the DOL side, the budget plan would $200 million for apprenticeship programs, which received $175 million this fiscal year. A summary of the budget noted DOL’s effort to create a new industry-recognized apprenticeship system to modernize and expand apprenticeships.

DOL last year released its proposal for the new apprenticeship structure that would run in tandem with its registered apprenticeship program. However, House Democrats have pushed back on the so-called IRAPs — industry-recognized apprenticeship programs — arguing that the department did not have the authority to use funding appropriated for registered apprenticeships for IRAPs.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.