President Obama released a relatively unambitious, largely partisan proposal for funding the federal government for fiscal year 2015, which begins on October 1, 2014. In recent years, the president’s budget request has included proposals that have driven successful education policy reforms, including a debate and new funding for early education programs and reforms to student loan interest rates. This year’s budget request, though, has been widely disparaged as dead on arrival. Even so, the bill offers some important insights to the White House’s thinking as it heads into the middle of Obama’s second term. New America’s Education Policy Program has gathered some of the highlights of the bill here.
On the whole, the fiscal year 2015 budget totals slightly more than is allowed by the spending limit Congress and the president agreed to earlier this year ($1.014 trillion, as compared with $1.012 trillion). It is, however, equal to the spending limit for fiscal year 2016 set by the same law passed earlier this year; that might make budgeting for next year more challenging by demanding the White House budget for flat funding even though programs’ needs may have evolved or grown. The president also sets aside $56 billion in spending above that total appropriations limit, half of which would fund defense programs and half of which is reserved for non-defense spending. Paid for with a mix of tax increases and spending cuts, that fund—called the “Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative”—wouldn’t be within the spending caps unless lawmakers agree to an equivalent amount of changes.