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Posts Tagged ‘debt ceiling’

Career Clusters™ Institute Recap: Perspectives from the Hill

Monday, June 25th, 2012

The National Career Clusters™ Institute is an annual summer event that offers a range of seminars and workshops highlighting model CTE programs across the country that are aligned to the National Career Clusters Framework ™. This blog series provides a recap of the broad range of information shared over the course of the event, which took place June 18 – 20 in Washington, DC.

On Tuesday afternoon we were joined by a panel of Congressional staffers who shared with attendees their outlook on budget topics, as well as the status of a number of education and workforce related bills. We were reminded that the remainder of the year is going to be a challenging one for Congress as they tackle issues such the national debt, sequestration, and tax cuts that are set to expire in December. The combination of these fiscal problems will undoubtedly lead to cuts in many federal programs.  Given that it is an election year, most of these issues will not be taken up until the lame duck session in November and December.

Because Perkins is not due for reauthorization, Congress is focused on other programmatic bills, such as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Workforce Investment Act, and the Child Development Block Grant. There has been a lot of action around ESEA in both chambers this session, but things have seemed to slow done. The outlook was that it probably would not be reauthorized this year. While there has been a flurry of activity on the Workforce Investment Act in the House, it is unlikely that the bill will progress much further because of stalled negotiations on the Senate side.

However, the panelists did give their perspective on Perkins-related issues. As far as the Obama Administration’s Blueprint is concerned, it could be a discussion starting point for Members of Congress as they begin talking about reauthorization. More specifically, the proposal for competitive funding is not popular in Congress, while there is agreement that accountability and data needs to be stronger. Congress would also like to see better alignment with other federal programs such as ESEA and the Higher Education Act.

All of the panelists stressed that they want to hear from you! Constituent input is very important as they decide how to allocate federal dollars most effectively, and as they work on bills such as Perkins. So if you haven’t already, contact your Member of Congress now and let him or her know how critical CTE and Perkins is. Preliminary conversations about Perkins could be starting this year, and Congress needs to hear from the field about what is working, what is not working, and changes you would like to see made.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Legislation, National Career Clusters Institute, Public Policy
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Debt Ceiling Bill Signed into Law; Ramifications for Education are Unclear

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

After passing the House yesterday, a bill to lift the federal debt ceiling and avoid a default was approved by the Senate this afternoon and signed into law by President Obama.

The deal will put a ten-year cap on federal spending and raise the debt ceiling by a minimum of $2.1 trillion and a maximum of $2.4 trillion through the end of 2012. By the end of the year, the total limit on the national debt is projected to be between $16.4 trillion and $16.7 trillion.

The deal also includes a $7 billion reduction in FY 2012 spending below current levels.

The agreement will increase the debt in two stages:

The first stage requires $917 billion in savings, along with a $900 billion increase in the debt ceiling, over the next ten years. President Obama will have the authority to increase the debt ceiling by $400 billion through the end of September. The rest of the $500 billion will be up for a congressional vote and can vetoed by the President.

According to the agreement, the second stage could increase the debt limit from $1.2 to $1.5 trillion, including deficit cuts, in one of three ways:

1) A balanced budget amendment to the Constitution that would increase the debt ceiling an additional $1.5 trillion.
2) The formation of a joint congressional committee that would require up to $1.5 trillion in deficit cuts to be passed by the committee and Congress. The debt ceiling would only be increased by the amount that is cut.
3) If the first two options don’t work, automatic, across-the-board government cuts of up to $1.2 trillion will occur. The debt ceiling would be increased by the same amount.

The White House provided a visual this week to explain the agreement.

Now, the question is: how will education fare?

Education already suffered $1.25 billion in cuts in FY 2010. However, education stakeholders should prepare for additional cuts as the law is enacted. Rep. George Miller (CA), Ranking Member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, commented that cuts from the debt ceiling legislation are “going to make life much more difficult” for public schools. Sen. Dick Durbin (IL) stated that “working families and their children” will be hurt. Despite these comments, there are no details in the bill as to which agencies will take cuts and by how much.

Congress will recess until early September.

By Kara in News, Public Policy
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Legislative Update: No Debt Deal Yet, Duncan Testifies Before Senate Subcommittee, WIA Postponed, No Timeline for ESEA, Bills Introduced

Friday, July 29th, 2011

No Deal Yet

Debt ceiling talks picked up this week as scores from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on debt legislation were released. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (NV) plan would reportedly cut the deficit by $2.2 trillion, more than Speaker Boehner’s (OH) legislation.

While support for Boehner’s plan seemed to increase throughout the week, the GOP could not persuade enough members to support the measure last night and a vote on Boehner’s bill was postponed indefinitely. Many Senators contend that the bill would be quickly rejected if and when it makes it to the Senate floor.

Congress has until next Tuesday, August 2nd to come to a deal before the country hits its default deadline.

Duncan Testified at Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing

At a Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing this week, Senators were surprised to learn that spending at the Department of Education increased by 20 percent over the last two years. Education secretary Arne Duncan revealed that the increased spending was mostly due to the rise in Pell grant use, a conversation that dominated most of yesterday’s hearing. Duncan also brought up the Race to the Top and I3 funds as priorities, though several members questioned these approaches. Duncan stressed that all students need a well-rounded education and that youth and adults need “new skills for the jobs of tomorrow” but there was no mention of Career Technical Education as a method of delivering these goals.

View a webcast of the hearing here.

WIA Markup Postponed

The August 3rd markup of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) has been removed from the Senate calendar. A new date has not been set.

No Timeline Set for ESEA

Sen. Tom Harkin (IA), chairman of the Senate’s Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, was unable to give a timeline this week when asked about a schedule for marking up the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) bill. Harkin stated that his discussions with the HELP committee’s top Republican, Sen. Michael Enzi (WY), are progressing but they still disagree on major issues like accountability, teachers and comparability. While Harkin would like to see a bipartisan ESEA bill passed, this seems very unlikely to happen before the start of the new school year.

For the first time since Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s controversial offer to grant waivers to states on aspects of the old law, Sen. Harkin suggested that he may be open to Duncan’s waiver idea if no progress is made on reauthorizing ESEA.

Bills Introduced:

Developing Innovative Partnerships and Learning Opportunities that Motivate Achievement (DIPLOMA) Act

Rep. Judy Chu (CA) and Rep. David Loebsack (IA) reintroduced H.R. 2637, the Developing Innovative Partnerships and Learning Opportunities that Motivate Achievement (DIPLOMA) Act to encourage collaboration among communities, schools and social-service programs to find solutions for challenges faced by struggling students to reduce dropout rates. The bill would award grants to states, who would award subgrants to local consortia. Grantees may, but are not required to, use funds to implement dual enrollment programs, early college high schools, and strategies for dropout prevention. Grants may also be used to fund opportunities for job training, career counseling, internships, and Career Technical Education.

By Kara in News, Public Policy
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Webinar: How Does the Debt Ceiling Debate Impact Education?

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

What impact are the debt ceiling debates having on education? Will the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) be reauthorized in time for the new school year? Is Secretary of Education Arne Duncan really going to pass waivers on the requirements of the old law, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), if ESEA isn’t reauthorized on time?

Join the Alliance for Excellent Education, a national policy and advocacy organization, as they take on these questions in a webinar next Monday, August 1 from 3:00 to 4:00 ET.

Bob Wise, former governor of West Virginia and president of the Alliance, will lead the discussion and respond to viewers’ questions.

Click here for more information and to register for the webinar.

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst, [email protected]

By Kara in News, Public Policy, Webinars
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Legislative Update: Higher Education Regulations in Effect, Debt Talks Continue, Bills Introduced

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Higher Education Regulations Proposed by Dept. of Ed. in Effect

In June, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved H.R. 2117, the Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act, to repeal unnecessary credit hour and state authorization regulations to protect institutions of higher education and students from excessive burdens (See NASDCTEc’s blog “House Approves Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act”).

As a series of higher education regulations proposed by the Department of Education were recently put into effect, those in opposition are expressing their disapproval. Chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce stated “These regulations are just another example of federal intrusion into areas best left to states and education leaders. At a time when individuals should be encouraged to pursue higher education, the department has created new regulations that will deny access to important education programs and weaken the nation’s workforce.” To read the House Education and the Workforce’s summary of the issue, click here.

Debt Ceiling Talks Update

President Obama echoed yesterday a statement that he has made before about the deficit-reduction talks: “Nothing is agreed to until everything’s agreed to.”

While Obama continues to meet with both Republican and Democratic leaders, no deal has been made. The President called yesterday’s talks “very constructive” and said that Congress would continue work over the weekend to achieve a deal. In an effort to compromise with Republicans, Obama is urging Democrats to consider a plan that would require big changes for Social Security and Medicare in exchange for increased revenues.

The U.S. Treasury imposed an August 2nd deadline for a deal before a default will occur. Leaders will continue to meet over the weekend to work on a deal.

Bills Introduced:

State and Local Funding Flexibility Act

Yesterday, Chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee John Kline introduced H.R. 2445, the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act, which would give states and school districts much greater flexibility in funneling federal funds toward local education priorities. The bill is the third in a series of five bills that the Committee has proposed as a part of ESEA reauthorization. A summary of the bill is available here. NASDCTEc will provide more information on the bill as it becomes available.

Put America to Work Act

Rep. Ellison (MN) introduced H.R. 2368, the Put America to Work Act of 2011, that would direct the Secretary of Labor to make grants to state, locals and tribes with the purpose of creating job opportunities for unemployed and underemployed residents in distressed communities.

Preserve State/Institution Authority on Authorization and Credit Hour

Sen. Burr (NC) introduced S. 1297, a bill that would preserve state and institutional authority relating to state authorization and the definition of a credit hour. This bill contests a package of regulations recently put into effect by the U.S. Department of Education to create a federal definition of a credit hour and also requires increased authorization for institutes of higher education. See also “Higher Education Regulations” article above for more information.

Bill to Amend WIA and Promote Manufacturing

Sen. Rockefeller (WV) introduced S. 1329, a bill to amend the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 to create a pilot program that would facilitate the provision of education and training programs in the field of advanced manufacturing. The bill has been read twice and referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP).

By Kara in Public Policy
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Legislative Update: Debt Ceiling, WIA Markup Delayed, Bills Introduced

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Leaders in Washington continue to struggle as the August 2nd deadline for lifting the federal debt ceiling approaches (See “Debt Limit Deal” in last week’s update). At President Obama’s request, the Senate recess scheduled for next week has been cancelled to continue work on the debt ceiling.

Obama held a press conference this week to reaffirm that revenues must be included in any deficit reduction plan. Republicans and Democrats remain at an impasse over the inclusion of revenues in the package, but Obama stated that both parties had already identified more than $1 trillion in spending cuts. In his speech, the President referred to his support of a manufacturing initiative that would enable 500,000 workers to receive skills and training to fill manufacturing job vacancies. He also said that education will continue to be funded.

Sen. Daniel Inouye, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations, released a statement yesterday strongly opposing cuts to areas of non-defense discretionary spending, such as education. Sen. Inouye wrote “The focus of our deficit talks should not be on domestic discretionary spending, but on the real reason why we are not running a surplus: historically low revenues, soaring mandatory spending, and the cost of war.”

In other news, the Senate was scheduled to markup the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) this week but the markup has been pushed back to mid-July.

Bills Introduced:

Manufacturing Reinvestment Account Act

Sen. Blumenthal (CT) introduced S. 1237, the Manufacturing Reinvestment Account Act, that would make it easier for manufacturers to invest new capital into equipment, facilities, and job training to enable them to grow and create more jobs. This bill supports President Obama’s recent initiative to increase job training in the manufacturing sector.

Women and Workforce Investment for Nontraditional Jobs (Women WIN Jobs) Act

Rep. Polis (CO) introduced H.R. 2315, the Women and Workforce Investment for Nontraditional Jobs (Women WIN Jobs) Act. The bill would help recruit, train and place more women into high tech and advanced manufacturing fields. Currently, women account for only one-quarter of the workforce in these areas.

Reengaging Americans in Serious Education by Uniting Programs (RAISE UP) Act

Sen. Stabenow (MI) introduced S. 1279, the Reengaging Americans in Serious Education by Uniting Programs Act (RAISE UP). The bill would coordinate existing programs to improve services to youth who have dropped out of high school. Students would be put on track to attain a high school diploma, postsecondary credential, and career that provides a family-sustaining wage.

America Recruits Act

Sen. Warner (VA) introduced S. 1247, the America Recruits Act, that would develop and recruit new, high-value jobs to the United States and encourage off-shore jobs to be brought back and filled by American workers.

By Kara in News, Public Policy
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