Supplemental Appropriations Could be Vehicle for Education Jobs Funding
|Date Posted: May 21, 2010|
The plan is to include the funding in an emergency appropriations bill for 2010, expected to move through Congress as early as this month. In a May 13 letter sent to House and Senate leaders, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he was "gravely concerned that ongoing state and local budget challenges are threatening hundreds of thousands of teacher jobs for the upcoming school year, with estimates ranging from 100,000 to 300,000 education jobs at risk."
Duncan has voiced support for various stand-alone bills that would have provided the education jobs money — including S. 3206, the Keep Our Educators Working Act and H.R. 2847, the Jobs for Main Street Act. But this is the first time the administration advocated including the money as part of an emergency supplemental bill, said Mary Kusler, assistant director of advocacy and policy for the American Association of School Administrators (AASA). Kusler said AASA's May 4 survey of the education field projects that up to 275,000 education jobs might be lost in the coming school year if Congress fails to act. If this happens, the organization says, it will undercut the estimated 300,000 education jobs preserved by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, has said he will try to add the $23 billion for education jobs as an amendment to an emergency supplemental bill expected to come to the Senate floor for debate soon, possibly the week of May 24. This will be a "very difficult" vote, Kusler predicted, since the amendment will require 60 votes to pass.
AASA is urging House appropriators to include the education money in its yet-to-be-drafted emergency supplemental bill. Jenilee Keefe Singer, a spokeswoman for the House Appropriations Committee, said discussions are underway on what to include in the measure, but that it was too early to say if the $23 billion for education jobs would be in the bill at its unveiling.
The $23 billion is roughly half of what was provided in the two-year State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, a portion of the stimulus bill, most of which has already been spent. Numerous reports have shown that states and localities are still struggling with recession-related budget woes that threaten to undermine education and other sectors, such as public safety, into next year, even if the overall economy improves.
— Erika Fitzpatrick