Speaking Out! 4/19/2010
Congress has returned from its spring recess with a full agenda: unemployment benefits extension, a jobs bill, financial industry reform, and next year’s budget and appropriations matters. In the weeks ahead, look for Congress to continue the high tempo of activity as it moves to these matters.
There is a very good chance Congress may not be able to agree on a Fiscal Year 2011 budget resolution. That may complicate appropriations consideration, and make the consideration of a tax/revenue measure difficult. Without a budget resolution in place, spending and tax measures need 60 votes in the Senate to avoid filibuster.
Nutrition programs have been critically important for children and families struggling in the economic downturn. These programs could be in for a boost soon, as we expect a Child Nutrition Authorization bill to move in both the House and Senate sometime between now and Memorial Day.
As Congress considers child nutrition reauthorization, it is vitally important for advocates to push for additional funding and resources above those in the Senate Agriculture Committee-passed bill. At $4.5 billion over 10 years, the bill is a significant first step in this process, but is far from President Obama’s requested $10 billion in additional funding over 10 years.
Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) are circulating a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi supporting an increase of $1 billion per year for child nutrition programs and asking her to help identify any funds needed by Chairman George Miller as he and the Education and Labor Committee considers this important bill.
Click here to access the “Dear Colleague” letter.
Click here to see who has signed onto the letter.
Go to the Voices website (www.voices.org) to learn more, and to send a letter of support to your members of Congress.
Last week, both the House and the Senate passed a package of short-term extensions of several key federal programs. The president signed the measure shortly after its passage.
It extends federal support for unemployment benefits, subsidies for COBRA health insurance for those experiencing a job loss, and the continued use of the 2009 poverty guidelines for determining eligibility for federal programs. The extensions in the short-term law expire June 2.
The package was designed to give House and Senate leaders the time to work on a bill that will extend benefits and services through the end of 2010.
Sen. Harkin (Iowa) proposed a $23 billion bailout for schools last week to prevent thousands of teacher layoffs. At the Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing last week, Education Secretary Duncan pointed out that state and local budget cuts would impact schools, teachers, and students.
Examples of the education budget crunch can be found across the nation. In Hawaii, parents occupied the office of Governor Linda Lingle in protest of teacher furloughs that have resulted in public schools closing for 13 Fridays since last fall. Connecticut is facing class size increases, Utah is considering reducing the number of instructional school days and New Jersey is considering cutting state aid to local schools.
Governor Charlie Crist (Florida) vetoed Senate Bill 6, which would link teacher pay to student test scores. The bill would also remove tenure for new teachers. According to Crist, the changes would place “teachers in jeopardy of losing their jobs and teaching certificates, without a clear understanding of how gains will be measured.”