Mar 09, 2011
On March 9th the Senate rejected both proposed spending plans, the one crafted by the House, HR 1 and the Amendment offered by Senator Inouye (D-HI). The current short-term spending plan expires on March 18th. If there is no agreement on spending the government will shutdown. To forestall this, the House is drafting another short-term measure - with additional spending cuts. What is unclear is what the dimensions of the upcoming budget negotiations will be - will they be focused just on the domestic annually appropriated or will they look at the entire federal budget.
Mar 04, 2011
This afternoon the Senate Democratic leadership announced their counter proposal to the House’s spending cuts (HR 1). It proposes to restore $200 million to Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy program that was cut (to zero) in the two week spending measure called a continuing resolution (CR). Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy provides funds for professional development in reading and writing from age 0 to grade 12. I have just come from a meeting with Senate Appropriation staff on this measure. What is also interesting is that programs such as the National Writing Project and Reading Is Fundamental will be put in the Investment in Innovation (I3) Fund. (They had been cut because by definition as nationally directed appropriation they are earmarks – as are Teach for America and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.) The vote on this measure will occur this Tuesday, March 8th. What is very important is how many votes will be cast supporting the measure as it will be an indication of support for education and literacy. If this proposal doesn’t get much support, these programs will be lost and cuts to education will continue. It is important to remember that this funding debate will be going on for many more weeks.
Mar 03, 2011
On Wednesday evening the President signed the two week emergency spending plan called a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the federal government open for two more weeks. Unfortunately, it cut almost every literacy program in the government to zero. Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy, Reading Is Fundamental, National Writing Project, and others. Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy was in the president's budget to be consolidated with other literacy programs, and the other programs are in a category called national earmarks.
Senators Harkin (D-IA) the chair of the education appropriations committee in the Senate and Senator Murray (D-WA) the champion of Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy program were two of nine Senators who voted against the bill and these cuts.
The next stage is the construction of the longer term CR. This process is beginning now; but the Senate isn't sure if it is starting with the House passed bill that cuts $66 billion or will be building their own. The Senate Democratic leadership knows that it needs to keep focus on several critical education programs, but there is not agreement on how to prioritize between the formula programs (Title I and IDEA) and programs such as the School Improvement Grants. Also looming is the resolution of where to get the $5 billion to fund the PELL grants (this money has already been spent).