Friday, April 23, 2010

Senate Committee Passes Budget Resolution

Yesterday, the Senate Budget Committee approved the FY11 budget resolution by a 12-10 vote. The budget resolution provides an aggregate level for discretionary spending that is $4 billion below the President’s budget for FY11. The administration proposed to shift $17.7 billion for Pell in FY11 from discretionary to mandatory, but the budget resolution adjusted it back to discretionary spending. The budget also assumes that the $5.5 billion Pell shortfall will be paid off, but it does not provide funds to do so. Therefore, in order to shore up the shortfall, other programs will need to be cut by $5.5 billion. (The budget resolution serves as a guideline for appropriators but is not binding.) Pell Grant funding continues to be the thorniest issue and there is some concern about the how the funding situation will be addressed.

Prior to approval of the budget resolution, the committee passed an amendment by a 16-6 vote. The amendment requires 60 senators to vote in favor of spending more than 20 percent of savings from the reconciliation on new programs. It appears that the budget resolution will come to the floor in a few weeks after the Senate deals with the financial reform bill. The President does not sign the resolution.

In other news, Keep Our Educators Working Act of 2010, the bill introduced by Senator Harkin (S. 3206), now has 20 cosponsors, the newest being Sens. Arlen Specter (D-PA) and Ted Kaufman (D-DE). Sen. Harkin is continuing to gather co-sponsors and plans to attach the bill as part of a supplemental appropriations legislation.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Chairman Harkin Introduces Education Jobs Bill

Today, Senate Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Subcommittee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced “Keep Our Educators Working Act,” which would provide $23 billion to states to support k-12 and post-secondary education positions. The program would be distributed similarly to the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund that was established in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Also, Chairman Harkin held a hearing to discuss the administration’s education budget and the Education Jobs bill with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testifying. Another panel of witnesses, including Mark Herzog, Chancellor of the Connecticut Community Colleges, testified before the subcommittee. All of the witnesses voiced their strong support for the education jobs bill. With the downturn in the economy and impending budget cliffs, these funds would stave off huge budget deficits and layoffs. ACCT sent a letter of support of Chairman Harkin’s bill.

The bill’s funding level mirrors the House-passed “Jobs for Main Street Act,” which was passed in December of last year. Last month, House Education and Labor Chairman George Miller (D-CA) introduced H.R. 4812, which includes funding for states and an additional $75 billion over two years for local government to retain workers, including school employees.

The hearing can be found at:

ACCT’s letter of support can be found at:

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