Friday, December 13, 2013

Federal Budget Update

Federal Budget Progress: Last night (Thursday, December 12, 2013), the House passed the Bipartisan Budget Act by a vote of 332-94. This was legislation based on the budget deal announced earlier this week. The next step is for the Senate to vote on the bill. The bill provides sequester relief and continues to forward fund education.

What was decided this week: As a result of the deal to end the government shutdown in October, a bicameral (Senate and House) budget committee was appointed to identify long-term funding levels. This was chaired by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wisconsin) and Senate Budget Chair Patty Murray (Washington). The Chairs announced earlier this week that they had reached a deal and that the bill would be go to the House and Senate floor for a vote.

What’s in the deal: Sequester relief! The deal replaces the $63 million in sequester (across the board cuts) for the next two years and provides top-line funding levels for the Appropriations Committees. However, while it replaces the sequester for the next two years, it also extends the sequester for nonexempt mandatory programs for an additional two fiscal years (2022 -2023). The original Budget Control Act had the sequester expiring in 2021.

What it means for education specifically: Most education programs have advanced appropriations (meaning they’re paid out ahead of the fiscal year – to avoid schools being severely impacted by something like a government shutdown). The deal continues to allow for advanced appropriations for programs like ESEA/NCLB Title I, Title II, IDEA state grants and Career/Technical education state grants but prevents any new advanced appropriations from starting.

There were some deficit-neutral reserve funds that were kept in place, including:
  • Fund for early childhood education. (Funding for pre-kindergarten, child care and home visiting programs)
  • Fund for rural schools and districts. (concerning the establishment of the Office of Rural Education Policy within the Department of Education)

Funding levels for education will be determined by the Appropriations subcommittees with jurisdiction over the programs.

Where did the money to replace the sequester come from? Please see the chart below – which is as clear as any description we’ve seen:

PTA Position: National PTA, as a member of the Committee for Education Funding, sent the attached letter (PDF) to Congress in support of the deal, while acknowledging that it was not ideal.

Next Steps: Assuming the Senate passes the bill, the Appropriations Committees will need to appropriate the amount of money allocated and send a final spending bill to the House and Senate floors for passage before January 15th.

This update was prepared by staff at National PTA and edited for Washington State PTA Grassroots Blog. Further steps to advocate around sound investments in education during this next phase will be forwarded as they become available.

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