Special Edition of Washington Update: Overview of President Trump's FY 2018 Budget Proposal, the "Skinny" Version

Washington Update, March 20, 2017


Dear Colleagues:


On March 16, President Trump released a blueprint for his first budget proposal - for FY 2018 -- which begins October 1, 2017. Known as the "skinny" budget, this blueprint will be filled in with greater detail about proposed specific funding levels for additional programs in May. This skinny budget is a skeleton which leaves a number of questions unanswered, but does provide a broad framework.

The proposal fulfills President Trump's campaign promises to shift funding from domestic spending to defense spending. The budget boasts an increase of about $60 Billion for the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs. These increases would be paid for by deep cuts in domestic spending with the Environmental and Protection Agency being hit the hardest with a 31% decrease. The Department of Education is recommended for a 14% decrease. All spending cuts come out of the small slice of "Non Defense Discretionary (NDD)" spending which represents only 15% of the federal budget.

Note that this is a proposal. It does not carry the weight of law; rather it is a "wish list" and a recommendation to the Congress regarding funding levels. It begins the budget process in the Congress which will continue through the summer and into the Fall whereby committees of jurisdiction will write and mark up bills outlining funding for every government program. The numbers will become real after the Congress passes its appropriations bills for FY 2018, likely in the fall of 2017.

Many in Congress have described the budget as "Dead on Arrival," which is a common response to President's budgets no matter what the party proposing it. Every program has champions in Congress, often from both sides of the aisle, so eliminating programs and/or cutting them significantly faces political challenges. But the budget does set a marker which rallies responses either in support or opposition. Most in the education community are deeply opposed to the cuts proposed for the Department of Education.

Overview of Proposed Department of Education Budget

The Department of Education's proposed budget for $59 Billion represents a 13.5%, or $9 billion cut from the current level of funding. In addition, there are increases recommended for some programs which are paid for by cuts in existing programs.

Winners in the President's proposed education budget are primarily within the $1.4 B increase for school choice, featuring the following:

Losers in the President's proposed education budget include:

Programs which appear to be level funded in the President's budget: (note that these could very likely change when the final budget proposal comes out in May; in other words they could be cut in the next iteration of the budget proposal)

Take Aways


Jane E. West Ph.D.
Education Policy Consultant
Cell: 202.812.9096
Twitter: @janewestdc

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