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Ed-Insider April 17, 2003

Ed-Insider April 17, 2003
Education Insider

A weekly review of progress on the Quality Public Schools Agenda and other legislation that impacts our students, classrooms, and public education.

April 17, 2003

Action Alert!
Congress puts tax breaks before the real needs of our states and our schools. Send a message to your Representative and Senators: In this time of deficits and uncertainty, minimize tax cuts!

The NEA-opposed Budget Resolution passed the House by a vote of 216-211 and the Senate by a vote of 51-50, with Vice President Dick Cheney casting the tie-breaking vote. Sharp disagreement within the President's party over the size of the Administration's massive proposed tax cut drove the close votes.

Decoding the Spending Plan --A Guide to Anywhere -- The Budget Resolution sets overall levels for total revenue and spending to guide Congress in crafting the bills that will actually provide the program-by-program funding. This Budget Resolution is uniquely a guide to 'Anywhere.'

  • The House and Senate disagree on the size of the tax cut.
  • The "Robbing Peter to pay Paul" Syndrome: An increase in education spending over the President's proposed budget is 'assumed,' but any increases in education spending would have to be paid for by cuts in other programs.
  • The 'assumed' increase in education is directed largely to special education and to Title I. All other General Education programs fare poorly.
  • Spending on 'discretionary programs' - that is, non-mandated spending, is capped. Defense spending is part of the 'discretionary mix' with education and other critical programs. Thus, increases in defense spending must come at the expense of other programs.
  • The 'Sense of the Senate' resolution to provide fiscal relief to states remains, but is non-binding.

Bottom Line: The Administration has one clear priority: tax cuts. The heat is on. A tax bill will be forthcoming as the foundation of this budget plan for the next fiscal year (October 1, 2003 - September 30, 2004). The Administration's proposed tax cut jeopardizes not only critical federally-funded health and education programs, but also state revenue at a time of state budget crises.

Send a message to Congress. It's time to push back!

Social Security Offsets - A Hearing in the Offing!
House Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Clay Shaw (FL) announced a hearing "in the coming weeks" on the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).

NEA Members' Voices Making a Difference -- In a letter to House GPO/WEP repeal bill sponsor "Buck" McKeon (CA), Shaw noted the many Members of Congress who received messages of concern from federal, state and local government employees that they are being singled out unfairly by the GPO/WEP. "[This] is why the Subcommittee is dedicated to examining all options that help ensure equitable treatment under Social Security," Shaw said. []

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