Graph of the Week: Will Obama Get His Education Budget?

Graph of the Week: Will Obama Get His Education Budget?

By Michael Winters     Feb 11, 2015

Graph of the Week: Will Obama Get His Education Budget?

In President Obama's proposed budget for the Department of Education, he requests that Congress set aside $70.7 billion for a variety of education programs. But as the President's term to date has made quite clear, the most powerful man in the world doesn't always get what he wants.

So what are the chances that the Department of Education will receive the full requested amount? Actually, they're pretty good.

According to data from the Department of Education, in 26 of the past 35 years, Congress has appropriated more discretionary funds to the Department of Education than the President has requested. Interestingly, Congress grants more than the President requests regardless of which party controls the White House or Congress. Additionally, the budget requested, while generally increasing over time, varies no matter the party of the president. Since Ronald Reagan, only Republican President George H. W. Bush consistently asked for bigger Department of Education budgets each year.

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Why did the requested budget drop precipitously under Obama's first submitted budget? The data shows that in 2009 the Department of Education received $96.8B in stimulus money, but because this is a one time outlier to the budget process, that sum is omitted from this graph. Reading between the lines of the official budget press release, it seems that the stimulus money was expected to "top off" the lower requested budget for those two years.

It is important to remember when reviewing the data that the sources of federal government money for education are myriad and convoluted. Education programs are funded not just by the Department of Education, but also by the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services. According to the Federal Education Budget Project, the discretionary spending described here is used primarily for Title I Grants, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act State Grants, and Pell Grants.

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