The House voted down today a constitutional Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) by a vote of 261-165, 23 votes short of the 2/3 majority needed to amend the Constitution. As a result of the August debt-limit agreement, both the House and Senate must vote on a BBA this year. A vote on this issue is not yet scheduled in the Senate.

NAESP joined with 276 national groups to send a letter to Congress opposing the BBA. The amendment would have required all federal programs to be cut by an estimated 17.3 percent by 2018, according to the Center on Budget on Policy Priorities, endangering the public education system. While keeping America’s fiscal house in order is important, doing so on the backs of children and educators is not the answer.

 

Next week, Congress will also be working on two major fiscal moves that will impact education funding. These include:

1. "Superommittee" Proposal: The November 23 deadline looms for the bipartisan deficit reduction “supercommittee” to unveil $1.2 trillion in cuts to the federal budget over the next 10 years. If no agreement can be reached, automatic cuts will go into effect January 2013. Half of these cuts would come from defense spending, while the other half would come from domestic discretionary spending, the sector that includes the Department of Education and comprises only 12 percent of the total federal budget. 

At this point, it is unclear what the 12-member committee will propose, and ultimately Congress will have until December 23 to vote on the proposal. Legislative work for the reminder of the year hinges on what the committee proposes, which could dramatically limit the additional legislative proposals Congress considers.

 

2. Fiscal Year 2012 Federal Budget: Meanwhile, a rare funding deal was brokered between the House and Senate, clearing the way for three of the 12 Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations bills to become law, as well as another stop-gap Continuing Resolution that gives Congress until December to pass the remaining nine appropriations bills.

Continuing Resolutions (CR) extend the previous fiscal year budget for the federal government into the current year, giving Congress more time to approve a final budget. As reported in an earlier blog post, the CR that extended the Fiscal Year 2011 funding levels through November 18 included a provision that resulted in cuts to major education programs. Ultimately, October 1 funding allocations for programs including Title I, Title II Teacher and Quality State Grants, and IDEA Part B were reduced by 1.5 percent, or $329 million, forcing school districts to adjust budgets in the middle of the school year. Unfortunately, the newly passed CR, which extends current funding levels through December, includes the same language.

Congress now has until December 16 to pass the remaining nine Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations bills, which will likely pass as one large bill, once the House and Senate Appropriations Committee members hammer out policy and funding issues. The Department of Education has assured us the aforementioned funding cut will be reinstated, if the final Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations bill does not contain the 1.5 percent cut—but all those details remain to be seen.

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Please contact NAESP at advocacy@naesp.org.

NAESP: Fighting to Protect Your Interests in Washington, D.C.

 

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