PolitiFact: Cruz omits some information on school-safety funds


Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, says to prevent school shootings in the future, the country should look to the past. In 2013, he and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, proposed legislation that Cruz said could have prevented the Feb. 14 Parkland, Fla., shooting.

“One of the things Grassley-Cruz did was increase funding for school safety by $300 million,” Cruz said, but he said the Obama administration nullified that with a budget cut.

That year President Barack Obama called for the eliminating the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities State Grants program as part of his budget request, saving $294 million. Congress went along.

So that’s about $300 million. But there’s more to this story than just the dollar figure.

The particular state grant program Obama and Congress cut was formula-driven, essentially providing guaranteed money to states and school districts.

However, in the same budget, Obama requested an additional $100 million for a companion program that handed out grants on a case-by-case basis. Congress ultimately only added $51 million to that, but in any event, the cut Obama sought was closer to $200 million, not $300 million.

It is also important to note how that money was spent.

The Safe and Drug-Free Schools program focused on preventing drug use and violence. It covered “health education, early intervention, pupil services, mentoring, rehabilitation referral, and related activities.”

William Modzeleski, who headed the program through 2011, told us, “We were involved in a wide range of activities, ranging from working with the Secret Service on how to identify students on the pathway to violence to one where we spent millions to ensure schools had emergency management plans.”

The program also funded mental health and responses to the H1N1 flu.

Obama wasn’t the first president who wanted to end the program. President George W. Bush tried the same thing in his FY 2007 budget proposal. A 2001 study by RAND had said the program’s structure was “profoundly flawed.”

In 2013, after the killings of elementary schoolers and their teachers in Newtown, Conn., Obama rolled out a plan to prevent such slayings from happening again. The package was expansive, including an assault weapon ban and changes to the background check system.

But specific to schools, it included $385 million in new spending. It offered “$150 million to school districts and law enforcement agencies to hire school resource officers, school psychologists, social workers, and counselors.” There were $30 million for schools to design emergency management plans, and $40 million “to help districts work with law enforcement and other local agencies to coordinate services for students who demonstrate need.” There were at least $75 million aimed at boosting mental health interventions at schools.

Like the Safe and Drug-Free Schools program, the proposal covered a lot of ground, but it had more big-ticket line items aimed at violence alone.

Cruz’s plan to put $300 million into school safety sought $30 million a year for a decade to pay for more police to protect schools. Obama’s plan called for $4 billion to pay for 15,000 more police officers.

Of course, neither plan — Obama’s nor Cruz’s — became law. Cruz and Grassley have re-introduced their bill.

As a final budget note, Obama ultimately ended the Safe and Drug-Free School program entirely, and folded it into a new program called Successful, Safe, and Healthy Students.

Our ruling

Cruz said the Obama administration cut $300 million in school safety money. A fuller look at Obama’s proposed 2010 budget puts the cut around $200 million. In addition, Cruz ignores that in 2013, Obama called for $385 million to respond to mass shootings in schools, and $4 billion to hire an additional 15,000 police officers.

Cruz’s statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate it Mostly False.


Reader Comments ...

Next Up in National

12 weeks to Election Day as four more states hold primaries for Congress
12 weeks to Election Day as four more states hold primaries for Congress

With less than three months until the mid-term elections for the U.S. House and Senate, four more states hold primaries today for the Congress, but the roster of races is unlikely to produce the news associated with last week’s tight race in a special U.S. House election in Ohio, which amplified questions about whether...
Indicted GOP Congressman suspends campaign for re-election
Indicted GOP Congressman suspends campaign for re-election

Three days after being charged by federal prosecutors with insider trading and lying to the FBI, Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) announced on Saturday that he would end his campaign for another term in the Congress. “After extensive discussions with my family and my friends over the last few days, I have decided that it is in the best ...
Federal deficit jumps in July by another $77 billion
Federal deficit jumps in July by another $77 billion

The Treasury Department reported Friday that the federal government ran a budget deficit of $76.9 billion in the month of July, as federal revenues were down from a year ago, while government spending was up, keeping Fiscal Year 2017 headed in the direction of the largest yearly deficit since 2012. Added to the red ink totaled...
Review now finished of evidence seized in Michael Cohen raid
Review now finished of evidence seized in Michael Cohen raid

A Special Master who waded through evidence seized in an April 9 raid on the ex-personal lawyer of President Donald Trump said Thursday that she had finished reviewing documents and other materials that had been the subject of attorney-client privilege claims, keeping some items private, but delivering the vast majority to federal...
In Trump push for Space Force, Congress not yet convinced
In Trump push for Space Force, Congress not yet convinced

As Vice President Mike Pence told a Pentagon audience on Thursday that a new branch of the military known as the “Space Force” should be set up by 2020, the Congress has yet to approve the creation of such a plan, shrugging off repeated calls by President Donald Trump for a new part of the armed forces. “Establishing...
More Stories