In This Issue: Biden administration releases FY22 budget proposal, Senate follows House with return of earmarks, Department of Education higher education regulatory agenda, Title IX rule hearing, state legislatures update and McGuireWoods welcomes Farnaz Thompson.

Biden Administration Releases FY22 Budget Proposal

On Friday, May 28, 2021, President Biden released his FY2022 budget. The President’s budget includes two plans the President has already put forward—the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan—and outlines a package of discretionary proposals to help restore core functions of government and reinvest in the foundations of the nation’s strength.

The American Jobs Plan

The budget begins with the American Jobs Plan—an investment in America that would create millions of jobs, rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, and position the United States to out-compete China. The American Jobs Plan would invest in such projects as rebuilding roads, bridges, ports, airports, and transit systems. It would also invest in delivering clean water systems, the electric grid and affordable, highspeed internet. The plan would build, preserve, and retrofit more than two million homes and commercial buildings as well as modernize schools and childcare facilities. The plan would call on upgrade to veteran’s hospitals and federal buildings. It would raise wages and benefits for essential home care workers. In addition, resources would be used for research and development (R&D), manufacturing, and training.

The American Families Plan

Along with the American Jobs Plan, the budget also includes the American Families Plan—an investment to help families cover the basic expenses, lower health insurance premiums, and continue the reductions in child poverty in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The American Families Plan would include such things as adding at least four years of free education and providing direct support to families to ensure that low- and middle-income families spend no more than seven percent of their income on childcare.

Reinvesting in the Foundations of the Nation’s Strength

The budget also looks to reinvest in core functions of government and the foundations of the nation’s strength. The budget includes targeted discretionary investments across a range of key areas—from improving America’s public health infrastructure and improving education, to tackling the climate crisis and fostering economic growth and security, to restoring America’s global standing and confronting 21st Century security challenges.

Overall, the budget would restore non-defense discretionary funding to 3.3 percent of Gross Domestic Product, roughly equal to the historical average over the last 30 years, while providing funding for national defense as well as for other instruments of national power—including diplomacy, development, and economic statecraft—that enhance the effectiveness of national defense spending and promote national security.

Below are the key foundational investments in education:

TRIO and GEAR UP: $1.097 billion for Federal TRIO programs, an increase of $7 million above the 2020 enacted level. Additionally, $368 million for GEAR UP, an increase of $3 million above the 2020 enacted level.

Makes Historic Investments in High-Poverty Schools. The budget proposes $36.5 billion investment in Title I grants, a $20 billion increase from the 2021 enacted level.

Expands Access to Affordable Early Child Care and Learning. The budget includes $7.4 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, an increase of $1.5 billion from the 2021 enacted level, to expand access to quality, affordable childcare for families, as well as an $11.9 billion investment in Head Start, a $1.2 billion increase.

Boosts Support for Children with Disabilities. The budget includes $16 billion, a $2.7 billion increase from the 2021 enacted level, for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) grants. The budget also provides $732 million for early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities or delays. The $250 million increase for early intervention services would be paired with reforms to expand access to these services for underserved children, including children of color and children from low-income families.

Prioritizes the Physical and Mental Well-Being of Students. The budget provides $1 billion in addition to the resources in the American Rescue Plan, to increase the number of counselors, nurses, and mental health professionals in schools. In addition, the budget provides $443 million for full-service community schools.

Increases Pell Grants and Expands Institutional and Student Supports. The budget provides discretionary funding to increase the maximum Pell Grant by $400. This increase, together with the $1,475 Pell Grant increase in the American Families Plan, represents a significant first step to deliver on the President’s goal to double the grant. The budget also increases discretionary funding, and provides funding first proposed under the American Families Plan, to expand institutional and student supports at community colleges, HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs. The administration also looks forward to working with the Congress on changes to the Higher Education Act of 1965 that ease the burden of student debt, including through improvements to the Income Driven Repayment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs.

Other Education Related Items

Increases Rural Outreach and Connectivity. The budget provides $32 million for a renewed and expanded initiative, StrikeForce, to help people in high poverty rural communities tap into federal resources. The budget also provides an increase of $65 million from the 2021 enacted level for the Rural e-Connectivity Program “Reconnect” for rural broadband. The budget also includes $318 million for regional commissions, which provide economic development assistance in distressed, rural communities through infrastructure investments, workforce development, and other activities.

Read more on education policy in McGuireWoods Consulting’s Education Policy Update.