The President’s budget request is out today, here are highlights from OMB (pdf). Big debate today is actually higher-ed not K-12. The K-12 elements are mostly predictable and pretty good. Based on earlier work I’ve done, I’m obviously supportive of many of the changes to funds intended to support teacher quality efforts and also the general streamlining (though that’s always a tough, read frequently fruitless, debate). The early-childhood crowd, meanwhile, is excited because they got a headline program proposed. I’m skeptical the Race to the Top elements will make it through Congress intact though.
The higher-ed components are interesting for two reasons, on substance and on politics. The substance is the – should be alarming – reality that absent some changes to Pell it would consume about 10 percent of what’s now called discretionary “non-security” spending in the entire budget (pdf). That’s alarming because it again shows how the overall contours of the federal budget mean that investments in areas like education are getting squeezed and while many education advocates don’t fancy themselves deficit hawks a look at the out year projections should cause them to reconsider. So, the Administration’s Pell grant proposal is a nod to that reality and an effort to preserve the maximum award within the budget and political context (meaning their past proposals have not been well-received) they’re operating in. On the politics, keep an eye on how this idea is received by conservatives in the House. They, too, want to make cuts to Pell but deeper and different. A big question is if and how Speaker John Boehner can manage his caucus and their response here will be an interesting test. Kevin Carey has more on the higher ed pieces of the budget. And Jon Cohn at TNR has more on Pell.