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Legislative Update: Summer Jobs+, TANF Extended, Race to the Top

Happy New Year! Congress is currently on recess. The House is scheduled to return on January 17, 2012 and the Senate will return on January 23, 2012.

Summer Jobs+ Aims to Increase Youth Employment

Yesterday President Obama unveiled Summer Jobs+, an initiative that brings together businesses, non-profits, and government to provide pathways to employment for low-income and disconnected youth in the summer of 2012. The President originally proposed investing in summer youth employment as part of the American Jobs Act which failed to pass Congress. As a result of Congressional inaction, the private sector has already pledged to create 180,000 employment opportunities for low-income youth this summer. The administration hopes that a total of 250,000 opportunities will be available this summer, at least 100,000 of which will be paid jobs and internships.

“America’s young people face record unemployment, and we need to do everything we can to make sure they’ve got the opportunity to earn the skills and a work ethic that come with a job. It’s important for their future, and for America’s.” said President Obama.

Payroll Tax Cut and TANF Extended for Two Months

Before recess the House and Senate passed a two-month extension of the Social Security payroll tax cut and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The bill also extends Unemployment Insurance and the Medicare doc fix for two months.  The Senate has appointed conferees on the original House-passed payroll tax bill and House Minority Leader Pelosi appointed House Democratic conferees to work out a year-long extension.

Race to the Top Awards Announced

The U.S. Department of Education announced the seven winners of round three of the Race to the Top competition. The winning states – Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania – will each receive a share the $200 million grant. This round focuses on comprehensive statewide reform, as well as improving STEM education. The seven winning applications include commitments to enhance data systems, raise academic standards, improve principal and teacher support and evaluation systems and implement school interventions in underperforming schools.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

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