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Jane E. West

AACTE Education Policy Consultant

How the $2 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Bill Supports Education

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

I am in awe of the incredible work of our colleague educators who are managing their ever-changing personal situations, while still stepping up to creatively deliver for our students.  And hats off to Hill staff who have worked relentlessly and around the clock to put this third COVID-19 response package together. 

Congress Will Pass Third COVID-19 Stimulus Bill with a Boost for Education

The frenzied activity on Capitol Hill has yielded the single largest funding bill in our nation’s history at $2 trillion.The 888 page bill—H.R. 748, the CARES Act—passed the Senate late Wednesday night with a vote of 96-0. (Four Senators were absent due to the virus, including Sen. Rand. Paul (R-KY) who has tested positive, and 3 others who are self-quarantining.) The House is looking to pass the bill today [Friday, March 27], hoping that a voice vote will work—meaning that no Member of the House would object. President Trump has indicated that he will sign the bill.

How Will COVID-19 Emergency Spending Bill Help Education?

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

Washington Continues to Respond to the Coronavirus Epidemic

The Congress and federal agencies are likewise making changes by the moment. A 50,000 foot overview includes the following.

Legislative activity 

  • On March 6, Congress passed the first COVID-19 stimulus bill – an $8 billion package to help states and localities address the pandemic.
  • On March 18, Congress passed the second COVID-19 relief package, which ensures paid sick leave to certain employees, expands SNAP and Medicaid, and provides emergency assistance.
  • Congress is now considering the third COVID-19 relief package, a measure which will total between one and two trillion dollars and may address issues as far reaching as increases in unemployment insurance payments, financial assistance for hospitals and health care providers, a “state stabilization fund,” direct cash payments of $1,200 per qualified person, small business guaranteed loans, and billions in loans for industries, such as airlines. Provisions related to education are also on the menu, as described in the next article.

Washington Works to Address Coronavirus

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

COVID-19 Resources

This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

Congress is working to respond to the pandemic on multiple levels. To date seven members of Congress have announced that they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and are self-quarantining.  A staff member of Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) has tested positive for the virus and Sen. Cantwell has closed her office. The U.S. Capitol has ceased public tours, both those member and staff led. The Capitol complex, including House and Senate office buildings, is restricted to official business only.  Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) noted  “We should encourage people to not travel here right now.”  Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has declared the District a state of emergency and limited gatherings. Likewise, the Governors of Maryland and Virginia have declared states of emergency and limited gatherings.

Education Funding and HEA Reauthorization in Play on Capitol Hill

Capitol hill building in the morning with colorful cloud , Washington DC.

This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

The coronavirus outbreak has left us all a bit flummoxed this week.  Higher education, school districts and all of our communities are working to provide informed leadership, but not be alarmist—a tall order when so much is unknown. 

Meanwhile, Congress continues to make progress with education matters and political campaigns continue to unfold.

House and Senate Kick Off FY 2021 Appropriations Season with DeVos Hearings

In the last two weeks Sec. Betsy DeVos has appeared before both the House and Senate Subcommittees on Labor/HHS/Education to defend the Trump education budget proposal for FY 2021. The controversial budget calls for almost a $9 billion cut from last year, a block grant for virtually all elementary and secondary education programs and a familiar $5 billion voucher program (“Education Freedom Scholarships”).

Secretary of Education to Defend Big Education Spending Cuts on Capitol Hill

This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

Secretary DeVos to Defend President Trump’s Budget Proposal before House Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations Subcommittee Next Week

Next Thursday, February 27 at 10:00 a.m., Secretary Betsy DeVos will make her annual appearance before the House Subcommittee on Labor/HHS/Education to defend President Trump’s budget, which calls for a $5.6 billion cut in education spending. If past is prologue, we can expect feisty questions from Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and other members of the Committee — none of whom have ever warmed to a Trump education budget proposal. There is likely to be high praise for the recommended $763 million increase for Career and Technical Education in the Trump budget, but little else. Even school choice proponents are likely to balk at the recommendation to fold the $400 million federal Charter School program into a block grant. The $5 billion “Education Freedom Scholarship” proposal (aka vouchers) has never gained traction anywhere on Capitol Hill — nor amongst most voucher advocates — who don’t want the federal government and all the regulations it brings in the middle of voucher initiatives.

The President Recommends Big Cuts for Education: Will the Congress Agree?

A pair of scissors representing cuts in education concept

This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

Bad News for Education in President Trump’s FY 2021 Budget Proposal

The FY 2021 appropriations process was officially launched with the release of the President’s budget proposal on Monday. The budget is thematically similar to previous Trump budgets, in that it calls for big spending cuts all around and proposes federal support for private schools in the form of a tax credit for donations to scholarship programs (called “Education Freedom Scholarships”). The proposal represents an overall 7.8% cut ($5.6 Billion) to the Department of Education.  Key features of the proposal include the following:

Elementary and Secondary Education

  • Twenty-nine K-12 grant programs will be consolidated into a single block grant (“Elementary and Secondary Education for the Disadvantaged Block Grant”) designed to provide maximum flexibility for state and local systems at $19.4 Billion – a $4.7 Billion cut from current spending.
  • The prized charter school grant program is consolidated into the block grant.
  • The big winner in the budget proposal is Career and Technical Education which is slated for $763 million increase.
  • Education Freedom Scholarships (tax credits for private schools) would cost $46 Billion over 10 years.
  • All IDEA programs are level funded; however, Part B of IDEA receives a $100 million increase.

IDEA Spending Increases but the Federal Share Decreases

 

U.S. Capital skyline

This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

Federal Budget: The Deficit Explodes; Do Earmarks Return?

The federal government’s budget deficit is projected to reach $1.02 trillion in 2020—the first time since 2012 that the deficit breached the $1 trillion threshold—according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The combination of 2017 tax cuts and new spending have been the biggest contributors to the increased deficit. FY 2020 is likely to see spending in the $4.6 trillion range while the government brings in only $3.6 trillion in tax revenue. CBO Director Phillip Swagel said, “Changes in fiscal policy must be made to address the budget situation, because our debt is growing on an unsustainable path.”

House Appropriations Chair, Rep. Nina Lowey (D-NY) is talking with Democratic colleagues to gauge their interest and seek input. The plan under deliberation would be a revised version of past earmarking with rules in place to keep the system in check. One aide to a freshman Democrat who flipped a GOP-held seat in 2018 noted, “This is not what we came to Congress to do. Voters made it clear years ago that they were tired of pork and special interest spending in Washington and sweetheart deals.” However, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer backs the revival of an earmark-type system. However, the Senate does not seem receptive to the idea. “The Republican Caucus is on the record against that, so that’s not going to go anywhere,” said Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby (R-AL). 

What’s New in the Department of Education?

This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

As you know, all eyes are focused on the Senate impeachment trial this week.  And with the House being in recess, there is no Congressional business underway directly related to education.  This may be the case next week as well, since the trial will continue in the Senate.  We will keep our eyes peeled.  But meanwhile there is a lot going on over at the Department of Education.

Secretary DeVos Announces new Civil Rights Compliance Center

The Department of Education is launching a new unit in the Office for Civil Rights, which is intended to assist schools and universities in “proactively” complying with federal civil rights laws before complaints are filed. Dubbed the Outreach, Prevention, Education and Non-discrimination (OPEN) Center, the initiative will provide targeted support to schools, educators, families, and students in relation to federal non-discrimination laws.

What Can Education Advocates Expect from Washington in 2020?

U.S. Capitol

This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

Happy New Year!  Welcome to the new decade and the second session of the 116th Congress.  Can we even imagine what it holds for us? One thing we do know – our advocacy on behalf of equity and education will only amplify!

Funding Cycle for 2021: On Schedule?

With the ink barely dry on the FY 2020 funding packages, the budget cycle for FY 2021 is already on the horizon.  The Trump Administration announced this week that it intends to release its Budget Proposal for FY 2021 on February 10, thus getting the cycle moving on time. The release of the proposal will be followed by hearings in House and Senate Appropriations committees and months of deliberation.

Congress Delivers Significant Increases for Education Spending

Diverse students in a circle hugging

This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE

Congress Delivers a Big Christmas Present – and On Time!

Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate came together to have bipartisan votes in both bodies to pass two packages of funding bills, which will keep all of the federal government running. President Trump has indicated that he will sign the bills today, thus preventing another government shutdown. 

Some key points about the education portion of the bill:

  • It adds $1.3 billion in spending for education over FY 2019.
  • The Department of Education’s budget now totals $72.8 Billion.
  • Virtually no program received a cut in funding and many received substantial increases.
  • The largest increases went to Title I ($450 million) and IDEA Part B ($400 million).
  • Related programs in HHS received large increases as well, for example Head Start has a $500 million increase.
  • A new Social Emotional Learning initiative received $123 million.
  • Many minority serving institutions in higher education received considerable increases including an $11 million increase for HBCU graduate institutions.
  • For the first time in years funding for research on gun violence prevention is provided at $25 million (for CDC and NIH).

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