Special Olympics funding cuts proposed in latest budget

Athletes celebrate when receiving their medals during declaration ceremony at the just completed Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. Special Olympics is a worldwide organization which organize sports competitions for people with learning difficulties.  (Photo by Dominika Zarzycka/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testified on Tuesday about a plan to cut federal funding to the Special Olympics.

The Special Olympics is the largest program internationally that supports those with and without intellectual disabilities. Eliminating it’s funding would severely impact the organization.

The department’s proposed budget would eliminate at least $7 billion from education programs, including the $18 million in federal funding for the Special Olympics. The budget proposal would include an additional $60 million of charter school funding and would create tax credits for those who donate to scholarships for private schools. This is not the first time there is an attempt to cut Special Olympics funding.

“The Special Olympics is an awesome organization,” DeVos testified to a Congressional subcommittee. “One that is well supported by the philanthropic sector as well.”

On March 28, President Trump said that funding would be restored to the budget proposal.

When asked on March 26 by Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., DeVos stated that she did not know how many children would be affected by the funding cut.

“I’ll answer it for you,” Pocan said. “It’s 272,000 kids that are affected.”

“I still can’t understand why you would go after disabled children in your budget,” Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., said. “You zero that out. It’s appalling.”

According to an administration official cited anonymously by NBC News, the Special Olympics has been a recipient of a donation by DeVos from her nearly $200,000 salary.

“Because of its important work, it is able to raise more than $100 million every year,” DeVos argued, stating that the government is unable to fund “every worthy program.”

A statement on the Department of Education’s website stated the Trump administration’s budget proposal includes a request for $13.2 billion for special education funding, the amount appropriated by Congress.

“There are millions of families that are touched by children with special needs,” Pocan said. “And to take money away from Special Olympics, at the same time Betsy DeVos has a 15 percent increase in executive salary pays in her budget, makes no sense whatsoever.”

Ellie Simpson is a senior sports journalism major at Arizona State University