- Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ 2020 budget would ax all federal funding for the Special Olympics.
- DeVos told the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday that the Special Olympics was “awesome” but could do without federal funding as it’s “well-supported by the philanthropic sector.”
- The organisation got about 10% of its 2017 funding from federal grants, with donations making up much of the rest of the total $US148.7 million.
- It’s the third budget in a row in which the Trump administration has proposed scrapping funding for the Special Olympics.
- Ultimately, the decision on government funding is made by Congress, so it is not guaranteed that the cuts will be approved.
The Trump administration on Tuesday defended a plan to eliminate federal funding for the Special Olympics, saying charity donations could make up the difference.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ budget proposal for 2020 would eliminate $US17.6 million in federal funding for supporting Special Olympics athletes, training facilities, and programs for children with disabilities.
“The earmark for Special Olympics Education programs would be eliminated,” the budget proposal said. All three Trump administration budgets since 2016 have proposed cutting funding for the Special Olympics.
Congress will decide whether to approve DeVos’ plan, so it is by no means guaranteed that the funding will be cut.
DeVos told the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday that the Special Olympics was an “awesome organisation” but did not need any government funding as it is already “well-supported by the philanthropic sector.”
According to the organisation’s latest financial report, the Special Olympics got about 10% of its 2017 funding, or $US15.5 million, from federal grants, with much of the total $US148.7 million coming from charity donations.
In the committee hearing, Rep. Mark Pocan asked DeVos, “Do you know how many kids are going to be affected by that cut?”
“I don’t know the number of kids,” she said.
Pocan replied: “It’s 272,000 kids.”
In February 2018, a Department of Education spokeswoman told Politico that DeVos would donate a quarter of her $US199,700 salary to the Special Olympics.
The broader 2020 budget proposed a 12% overall funding decrease for education, equating to $US8.5 billion.
The education budget also proposed a $US60 million increase in spending on charter schools, as well as several cuts to public-school funding, including to programs for students with autism and students who are blind.
Rep. Nita Lowey, the committee’s chair, said in a statement: “The Department of Education’s budget request is just another example of this administration’s disregard for facts and disconnect from reality. With this budget request, I’m receiving President Trump’s message loud and clear: fund the wall with money from our children’s schools.”
DeVos tweeted that her proposed budget “puts the needs of students, parents, teachers & local leaders first.”
In response to the media’s coverage of her budget cuts, DeVos released this statement late on Wednesday.
“It is unacceptable, shameful and counterproductive that the media and some members of Congress have spun up falsehoods and fully misrepresented the facts.”
“Make no mistake: we are focused every day on raising expectations and improving outcomes for infants and toddlers, children and youth with disabilities, and are committed to confronting and addressing anything that stands in the way of their success.”
“The President’s budget reflects that commitment. It supports our nation’s 7 million students with disabilities through a $US13.2 billion request for IDEA funding, the same funding level appropriated by Congress.”
“All of that money goes directly to states to ensure students with disabilities have the resources and supports they need. The budget also requests an additional $US225.6 million for competitively awarded grants to support teacher preparation, research and technical assistance to support students with disabilities.”
“The Special Olympics is not a federal program. It’s a private organisation. I love its work, and I have personally supported its mission. Because of its important work, it is able to raise more than $US100 million every year.”
“There are dozens of worthy nonprofits that support students and adults with disabilities that don’t get a dime of federal grant money. But given our current budget realities, the federal government cannot fund every worthy program, particularly ones that enjoy robust support from private donations.”
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