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Debt Ceiling Deal…What Does It Mean for Educators…

August 6, 2011

P071311ps-0719I came across an interesting web-site and I linked to it on the right side of my home blog page.  It is called the Council for Exceptional Children, and their are some informative article there for readers about education policy.  They also have a good advocate section which can help you to formulate letters to your Congress members.  I have already sent letters to both of my Senators this morning.

This article has to do with the Debt Ceiling Deal and what it may mean for you:

After months of dramatic and strained negotiations, the US Congress and the Obama Administration have finally reached a deal to raise the debt ceiling. It’s unclear exactly how much this deal will impact special and gifted education.  Read on to learn about how your members of Congress voted and what the deal means for the future of education funding.

How did your Senator or Representative vote?

The House passed the deal by 269 to 161 late Monday night. The Senate quickly followed on Tuesday passing it by 74-26. How did your Senator or Representative vote?  Look here for the Senate and here for the House.  President Obama signed it Tuesday afternoon, immediately giving the Department of Treasury additional borrowing authority, thus raising the debt ceiling and keeping the US from default through 2013.

So What’s the Deal?

Overall, this deal will likely mean cuts to education spending, but the exact impact on education programs, including IDEA and the Javits Gifted and Talented Students program is not yet known. Based on the size of the overall reductions, however, we can assume that funding for IDEA and Javits is threatened, and your advocacy will be key to saving funding for these programs. Here is what we know right now:

  • First Round of Cuts:  The deal “caps” discretionary spending for the next ten years, meaning Congress can’t appropriate more than the statutorily “capped” amounts. These caps will result in cuts of about $900 billion over the next decade. For Fiscal Years (FY) 2012 and 2013 these caps are projected to mean a cut to discretionary spending of $3 billion as compared to FY 2011 levels. Congress has yet to decide how that amount will be applied to programs – or specifically how it will impact education funding. (Your advocacy can make a difference!!)
  • Vote on the Balanced Budget Amendment:  The deal also requires the House and Senate to vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment between October and December of this year. CEC opposes a Balanced Budget Amendment because it’s bad for education– learn more here and if you agree, send this letter to your members of Congress telling them to vote NO!
  • Second Round of Cuts:  The second round of cuts will be decided by a joint congressional committee called the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.  By August 16, leaders from both parties in the House and Senate must appoint members to this committee and its charge is to cut more. It must come up with an additional $1.5 trillion in cuts over fiscal years 2012-2021.
    • Trigger: If Congress doesn’t approve the Committee’s recommendations by this December, significant cuts to defense spending and discretionary programs (including education) will automatically occur. Again, there is no information about which individual programs will be cut or by how much – but it is unrealistic to think IDEA and Javits will escape the knife.

Take Action!!

As more details emerge and the FY 2012 appropriations process moves forward CEC will continue to vigorously advocate for increased education funding. There will be many opportunities for you to make your voice heard – but take some time to do so right now! Don’t waste a minute!! Send a letter to your Representatives and Senators and tell them to prioritize IDEA and Javits in the FY 2012 appropriations process! And send a letter to your Senator and ask them to co-sponsor S. 1403, a bill that would responsibly fully fund IDEA. Take Action now!


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