WH budget would fund computer science, other tech priorities

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President Obama’s $4 billion plan to help fund computer science classes in schools calls for $40 million in funding in 2017, with yearly spending quickly escalating for the next five years. 

The Computer Science for All plan, unveiled last month, calls for federal funding for states to offer coding classes for students in kindergarten through high school. Funding for the program was included in Obama's overall $4.1 trillion budget proposal released Tuesday. 

The aim is to train a quarter million teachers, upgrade infrastructure and provide online courses. It would rely partly on partnerships with private industry. 

In 2018, Obama’s budget calls for mandatory funding for the program to rise to $720 million. Spending would increase above $1 billion in each 2019 and 2020. Spending would be $660 million in 2021 and $280 million in 2022. 

The program also calls for $100 million is discretionary funding for schools to expand computer science classes for girls and minorities. 

The White House said there are more than 500,000 openings for high-paying tech jobs. It estimated about half of all technology-focused jobs will soon have to do with computer science. 

“By some estimates, just one quarter of all U.S. K-12 schools offer computer science with programming and coding even as other advanced economies, such as England, are making it available for all students between the ages of 5 and 16,” according to the budget proposal.

The budget proposal is a kind of wish list for the Obama administration before the president leaves office. Few proposals are likely to make it through the Republican-led Congress. 

Obama’s budget includes a host of other tech proposals, including a large boost in cybersecurity spending, investment in self-driving car technology, and a small increase in the NASA budget. 

The proposal also includes funding within the budgets of the departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security to sponsor research into gun safety technology. The budget also calls for funding for 25 agencies to develop digital service teams, which are meant to place tech talent throughout the government. 

The budget also factors in an estimated $5 billion in savings over the next decade by having the Federal Communications Commission enact spectrum license user fees and allowing the FCC to auction satellite services. 

On the self-driving car front, the budget calls for $400 million per year for the next decade to help support their development.

“Investments would help develop connected infrastructure and smart sensors that can communicate with autonomous vehicles, support R&D to ensure these vehicles are safe and road ready,” according to the budget. 

For NASA, the budget calls for $19 billion in funding, an increase from current levels.

“The Budget supports exploration of the Solar System, including robotic missions to Mars and to the Sun, and funds the development and operation of a fleet of spacecraft to study our own planet, increasing our understanding of the Earth and its climate,” according to the budget, which also mentioned the need for public-private partnerships.