By Hillary Leung
March 27, 2019

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos defended plans to slash funding for the Special Olympics during a testimony before a House subcommittee, saying the department “had to make some heavy decisions.”

Devos appeared in front of lawmakers on Tuesday to review the Education Department’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.

According to the budget made public on March 11, the department plans to eliminate 29 programs for an annual savings of $6.7 billion. Among the programs, Special Olympics will see $17.6 million slashed from its funding.

When asked by Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan if she knew how many children would be affected by the cut, DeVos said she did not.

“It’s 272,000 kids,” Pocan said.

In 2017, DeVos met with Special Olympics athletes, tweeting after that it was “great to spend time with them.”

Last year, the Education Secretary donated part of her salary to the Special Olympics, according to Politico.

The proposed budget includes $500 million for opening and expanding public charter schools and their facilities, in accordance with the department’s outlined priority of increasing access to school choice. DeVos, a charter school advocate, said in her prepared statement that the budget has been set “so that families can find the best educational setting for their children.”

DeVos’ comments during the testimony were met with condemnation online.

DeVos was sworn in as Education Secretary in 2017 and has since rolled back a number of Obama-era policies in favor of charter and magnet schools.

Write to Hillary Leung at hillary.leung@time.com.

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