OPINION: Special Olympics deserves funding

Shelby Darnell, Staff Writer

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This March, the Trump administration sent a budget plan to Congress that included a proposal to eliminate funding for the Special Olympics proposed by the Department of Education.

Thankfully, President Trump recently stated he had “overridden” the proposal and the Special Olympics will continue to be funded. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has said she is “pleased and grateful the president and I see eye-to-eye on this issue,” which she now claims to have been an ally for “behind the scenes.”

This all seems like basic news until you think about the thought process it takes to cut funding to the Special Olympics.

The Special Olympics is an organization that, according to its website, has five million athletes participate each year. It gives disabled people chances they otherwise may never have—to be a part of a team, to play their sport and to get involved.

In fairness, defunding the Special Olympics would save the United States $17.6 million. I’m certain the thought process behind it was that the money could go somewhere else to invest in programs that might help save Americans money.

I’m all for that, but I—and many other Americans—would much rather use our tax dollars to help those in need.

Budget cuts can come from elsewhere—there’s no need to cut funding for something that brings joy and acceptance to millions of people. The Special Olympics is not something that can be replaced or be funded by itself. Being that it is such a large event, it requires— and deserves—government support.

The budget was proposed by the Department of Education, not Betsy DeVos specifically—despite her taking most of the heat. Whoever formulated the budget, however, should be looking out for the best interest of children’s development. Cutting the Special Olympics only hinders the development of special needs students and should not have even been a proposed idea of something to cut.

The proposed budget also includes massive cuts to environmental protection, transportation and foreign aid, but, of course, military spending increased by $33.3 billion to a whopping $718.3 billion.  In comparison, the education fund decreased by $8.8 billion to $62 billion, according to the administration’s 2020 proposal. Personally, I would prefer my money to go towards helping special-ed kids be happy than to the ever-increasing military fund.  

President Trump did the right thing by deciding to override his own administration to ensure the Special Olympics is funded, and people should not fault him for doing so.