NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

2013 Education Budget and Blueprint: A Costly Expansion of Federal Control

April 25, 2012

President Obama's fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget request and supplemental spending proposals make the administration's choice on education perfectly clear: continue to increase federal education spending and federal control at the expense of state autonomy, say Lindsey Burke and Rachel Sheffield of the Heritage Foundation.

The president's requests grossly expand federal programs and bureaucratic control, failing to acknowledge the fact that constant expansions of education spending by past administrations have proven futile in improving education outcomes.

  • The president's FY 2013 budget request includes a 2.5 percent increase (over 2012 levels) for the Department of Education -- the single largest funding increase of any domestic federal department.
  • The Department's discretionary budget would be split between elementary and secondary education on one hand ($38.5 billion) and higher education on the other ($28 billion).
  • This will contribute to the bloated, regulatory efforts of a 4,200-person department that requires state and local compliance with more than 150 federal education programs.

President Obama is also seeking another $60 billion in spending on new special programs.

  • The Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence and Collaborative Teaching (RESPECT) Project would allocate $5 billion toward grants to attract high-quality teachers.
  • The Keeping Educators in the Classroom proposal would receive $25 billion to maintain teaching positions throughout the country.
  • Finally, $30 billion would be given to schools at all three levels to modernize their facilities.

The enormous cost of these projects and the scope of the president's educational ambitions are reminiscent of the $98 billion in education spending in the 2009 federal stimulus bill.  Now as then, the administration continues wasteful spending while ignoring the crucial need for austerity.

Of note, the president managed to request the scrapping of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.  This program leads the way for educational voucher programs by providing 1,615 low-income children with scholarships to attend private schools for the small cost of $20 million.  Nevertheless, the administration could not find room in its budget request for the program's renewal.

Source: Lindsey Burke and Rachel Sheffield, "Obama's 2013 Education Budget and Blueprint: A Costly Expansion of Federal Control," Heritage Foundation, April 12, 2012.

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