Policy Matters Blog

House spending proposal addresses several NASP priorities

This week, the House Labor HHS subcommittee released its proposal for FY2020 federal spending. Thanks to your continued advocacy, this bill addresses many of NASP’s ongoing priorities including improving educational outcomes for disadvantaged youth and students with disabilities, improving school climate and safety, ensuring access to high-quality professional development, and increasing access to school psychologists and other school-employed mental health professionals. I am excited to share that this bill creates a new $25 million grant to help districts hire school psychologists and other school mental health professionals! Last year, a program specifically intended to help train these professionals was created (we expect the grant to be announced soon). This program is designed to complement that grant and give districts the needed funds to hire more professionals to reduce the ratio. The solution to the shortages requires a multi-faceted approach that includes increasing the number of school psychology graduate students while also increasing the number of school psychologists employed in districts. This new program won’t solve the problem, but it will certainly help.

We will learn a lot more details about the spending proposal in the next week, but based on currently available information we know this bill includes:

  • $16.9 billion for Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies, an increase of $1 billion 
  • $14.5 billion for Special Education, an increase of $1.05 billion which includes $13.4 billion for Part B Grants to States, an increase of $1 billion. 
  • $2.6 billion for high-quality professional development for teachers, principals, specialized instructional support personnel, and other educators (Title II-A), an increase of $500 million over the 2019 enacted level. 
  • $1.3 billion for Student Support and Academic Enrichment State Grants (Title IV-A), an increase of $150 million above the 2019 enacted level. This formula grant helps districts increase access to a well-rounded curriculum, implement programming to support safe and healthy students, and increase the effective use of education technology.
  • $260 million for a new Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Initiative to support SEL and “whole child” approaches to education.
  • $50 million (split between the CDC and NIH) to support firearm injury and mortality prevention research. 
  • $44 million for various suicide prevention programs including funding for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK).
  • $84 million for Project AWARE which helps increase awareness of mental health issues among youth, provides training for adults to help them identify students at risk and connect them with needed resources in the school and community.

What's next?

This proposal is just the first step in finalizing federal investments in education, school safety, mental health, and a host of other initiatives that help promote the wellbeing of children and youth. Next week the full House Appropriations Committee will mark up this bill. We expect some changes will be made to various programs. After that hearing, we hope to see a committee report that provides significant detail for how Congress intends for these funds to be spent. The bill will then have to pass the full House of Representatives. The Senate hasn't begun their work on FY20 appropriations, and this same process will take place in the Senate. Then the House and the Senate will need to find a compromise between their two bills, pass it in each chamber, and convince the President to sign it.

To further complicate matters, Congress has not yet determined the overall budget for the next year, so while the increases the House proposed are certainly encouraging, they are not promised. If Congress does not come to a budget agreement, a mechanism known a sequestration kicks in which will result in significant cuts to every single federal budget. We have a long road ahead to make sure that the federal government is providing the needed support to states and districts to help them meet the needs of all students.

Next steps for advocacy

The increases in many of these programs (and the creation of a new grant to address the shortage) are the result of your relentless advocacy. In the coming weeks, as we learn more about the Senate’s plan, we will be calling on you again. I encourage all of you to contact your elected officials and voice your support for these increased investments and share how they could impact the schools and communities your serve. Additionally, please respond to the various NASP action alerts that we will be sending over the summer with specific requests. If you don’t know who your federal representatives are, please visit our Advocacy Action Center to find out. Thank you for all you do to advocate on behalf of children and youth!