Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

What About Education Cuts?

Mar 2, 2010 | Other Spending

Deficit Challenge suggestions continue to pour in. Recently, one commenter suggested we cancel all new Education programs proposed or started under the Obama Administration. She writes:

The following are just new programmes from the proposed 2011 budget:

  • Race to the Top -1.35 billion (2011 budget)
  • Investing in innovation - 500 million
  • Effective teaching and learning: literacy - 450 million
  • Effective teaching and learning: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics - 300 million
  • Effective teaching and learning for a well-rounded education - 265 million
  • College pathways and accelerated learning - 100 million
  • Effective teachers and leaders State grants - 2.5 billion
  • Teacher and leader innovation fund - 950 million
  • Teacher and leader pathways - 405 million
  • Expanding educational options - 490 million
  • Successful, safe, and healthy students - 410 million

These are all new programs that did not exist in 2009 and 2010. Here is the link to the Department of Education. I am not even cutting old programmes - just not creat[ing] new ones in 2011.

We'd like to thank our commenter for doing all the work for us here. If you add all these programs together, they are worth about $7.7 billion for FY2011 alone -- even if future spending on these programs remained flat in nominal terms (were not adjusted for inflation), that would be nearly $80 billion over ten years.

There are two important and large caveats, though. First of all, these programs are not in the budget baseline. So technically, simply choosing not to fund them wouldn't create any scoreable savings -- although it would be much cheaper than accepting the President's budget proposal.

More importantly, though, many of these programs are not so much new programs, as they are replacements or consolidations of other programs. For example, the $2.5 billion in "Effective teachers and leaders State grants" is meant to replace nearly $3 billion in "Teacher Quality State Grants." And the $410 million for "Successful, safe, and healthy students" funding is meant to replace six programs with $365 million in costs.

If we were simply measuring the added costs of these proposals, relative to the FY2010 budget, it would come to closer to $3 billion in 2011. This assumes that we still enact the policies which save money (like the State grants).

$3 billion a year, of course, is still real money. And we appreciate the suggestion. In addition to it, here are some other education cuts which could help get us further:

 Savings (billions)
 5-year10-year
Eliminate National Science Foundation Spending on Elementary and
Secondary Education
$0.4$0.9
Eliminate Funding for Abstinence-Only Education$0.4$0.9
Eliminate the Even Start Program$0.3$0.6
Standardize the Interest Rates Charged on PLUS Loans at 8.5%$0.9$2.2
Eliminate Subsidized Loans to Graduate Students$10.4$18.8
Eliminate Administrative Fees Paid to Schools in the Campus-Based Student Aid
and Pell Grant Programs
$0.8$1.8
Reduce Funding for the Arts and Humanities$2.0$4.9
Eliminate subsidies for private "Family Federal Education Loans" and replace with direct student loans$25.1$43.3

As always, we welcome all additional suggestions; and will try to provide estimated budgetary savings for them, if we can.

Feel free to offer your own in the comment queue below.

And check out some of the other options we've looked at here.