PRESS RELEASE
NIEA Statement on the White House Budget Blueprint
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                    CONTACT
March 16, 2017                                                                Leah Salgado, lsalgado@niea.org 

Washington, D.C.- The National Indian Education Association (NIEA) issues the following analysis regarding the White House's Budget Blueprint, "America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again," released today:
 
Today's budget outline proposes a significant cut to funding for domestic discretionary programs by $54 billion for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY 18), including a 13% reduction in the Department of Education (ED) budget, while increasing spending on the military by the same amount. While important educational programs would see substantial reductions, the Department of Defense would see a 10% increase. 

The  proposed  cuts concern NIEA: these programs positively impact Native students. When these cuts are negotiated by Congress, we are concerned that Native education programs are at risk of being reduced.

The 13% cut to the ED would lead to a $9 billion overall cut in funding for FY 2018. The Blueprint provides a look at the programs that may face the steepest cuts, important notes on the Blueprint are below:
  • The following Native education programs are not specifically identified for cuts: the Indian Education Formula Grants (Formerly Title VII and now Title VI), the Alaska Native Educational Equity Support and Assistance Act, and the Native Hawaiian Education Act.
  • $9 billion in cuts to the ED come from programs that are not specifically designed to serve Native students but do impact their education, particularly Native students who attend public schools. Teacher professional development programs see a $2.4 billion reduction, after-school programs see a $1.2 billion cut, and programs that offer higher education assistance for students are reduced by $4.6 billion. These reductions will limit opportunities for Native students if enacted into law.
  • Funding for public and private school choice would increase by $1.4 billion. NIEA has serious concerns about the $250 million in funding for a private school choice program and $1 billion in funding for portability, which risks undermining schools with high concentrations of low-income students. NIEA membership has voiced concerns with programs that support private school choice as recently as this past October, NIEA will be monitoring this proposal closely to ensure the needs of Native students are represented.
  • One part of the Impact Aid Program, Support Payments for Federal Property, was eliminated. This funding of the Program, $66 million FY 16, does not encompass the part of Impact Aid that most directly serve Native communities: the Indian Lands Program is not identified to be cut in this Blueprint. NIEA is nonetheless concerned, Impact Aid in its entirety remains a critical program for Native students and we continue to strongly support fully funding the Program.
  • Head Start is not mentioned at all in this budget outline. NIEA is monitoring funding for this program closely based on concerns voiced over the last few months.
NIEA remains hopeful that the administration will continue to avoid cuts to Native programs in the final FY 2018 Budget which is set to come out in late April or May. We will continue to work with our allies on both sides of the aisle in support of programs that support Native students.
 
The Department of Interior would also see a $1.5 billion reduction, a 12% cut to their budget, but the Bureau of Indian Education is not slated for reductions. Interior recommitted itself to Indian Country:
  • Tribal sovereignty and the Nation's trust responsibilities to American Indian and Alaska Natives were identified as priorities for the Department of the Interior. Ensuring self-determination and providing support to tribal governments were acknowledged as responsibilities of the Department.
For a full copy of the entire budget outline, please click here.  
To see NIEA's FY 18 Budget Priorities, please click here.

TAKE ACTION and GET INVOLVED
 
Native education advocates are encouraged to contact their representatives or senator to express support for full funding of Native education programs.
 
To take action now, call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to speak with your Representative. They will ask you for your zip code and then connect you. When they do, you may use the following talking points as a guide:
  • I live in _____ and support Native students and Native education. Please tell the Representative that I strongly support full funding for the  [Indian Education Formula Funding, or the Alaska Native Educational Equity Support and Assistance Act, or the Native Hawaiian Education Act]. In my school this critical funding helps serve Native students and it's important that the program gets the funding we need.
  • I also oppose the President's proposal to fund private schools through the federal budget. Native students need good public schools, not vouchers which will enable taxpayer money to support private schools. Please tell the Representative to oppose funding for private school choice, also known as vouchers.
For immediate assistance or questions, please contact Matt deFerranti, Legislative Director, at (202) 544-7290 or via email at mdeferranti@niea.org.

About The National Indian Education Association (NIEA)
NIEA is the Nation's most inclusive advocacy organization advancing comprehensive culture-based educational opportunities for American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. Formed by Native educators in 1969 to encourage a national discourse on education, NIEA adheres to the organization's founding principles- to convene educators to explore ways to improve schools and the educational systems serving Native children; to promote the maintenance and continued development of language and cultural programs; and to develop and implement strategies for influencing local, state, and federal policy and decision makers. For more information visit www.niea.org.
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