Letter to the Senate on the Vote on the Education Jobs/FMAP Package
August 03, 2010
This Wednesday, you will have the opportunity to vote for a critical package that will provide $10 billion to save approximately 138,000 educator jobs and that will fund an extension of the higher federal Medicaid match (FMAP). We strongly urge you to vote YES on cloture and YES on the Murray-Harkin-Reid-Schumer package, which will be offered as an amendment to H.R. 1586. This vote is critically important to NEA’s members as well as the students they serve. This vote will be scored in NEA’s Legislative Report Card for the 111th Congress and will be closely watched by the millions of educators, parents, and students across the nation impacted by devastating layoffs and cuts to essential education programs and services.
Who supports Ed Jobs and FMAP?
Governors, parents, civil rights groups, education and community organizations have written letters supporting both the effort to pass an education jobs fund and an extension of FMAP. We have posted several of these letters on our website so that you can see the breadth of support for both of these proposals. This support is critically important to provide the kind of well-rounded, high quality education services and programs that our students deserve, and to our ability to care for those most in need. Respected economists have confirmed that these investments are critical to our economic recovery.
Both the education jobs funding and the FMAP extension are fully offset and will not add one penny to the federal deficit. The offsets for the education jobs fund are different than those in the House-passed version.
EDUCATION JOBS FUNDING: The school year begins imminently in many states; Congress must complete its work on this important legislation now. Our children deserve better than class sizes of 40, 4-day school weeks, fewer school nurses, fewer course offerings, and fewer after school programs to keep kids safe and enriched. News accounts from across the country have documented these cuts, as have compelling stories from educators. A failure to support this package would signal a disturbing lack of recognition of the dire cuts that have already been made in public education and will have long-lasting impacts on student achievement and success.
As students go back to school, their teachers have already begun heading to the unemployment office. Unless you act now, the numbers released in the fall will reflect hundreds of thousands of newly unemployed educators. According to the Economic Policy Institute, every 100,000 education jobs lost causes a loss of an additional 30,000 private sector jobs in local communities.
FMAP: FMAP must be extended to ensure that the most vulnerable among us are not deprived of essential services. State tax revenues have dropped precipitously as a result of the worst economic decline since the Great Depression. Unless Congress acts immediately to extend FMAP, the states will have no choice but to make additional drastic cuts affecting those who can afford it the least, including K-12 and higher education students—making a bad situation even worse. Low-income families and children whose personal budgets are already strained to the breaking point will lose basic health and dental benefits. People with disabilities who depend on Medicaid for survival will lose vital services as well.
We strongly urge the Senate to prove that we are not a nation willing to walk away from its children, its seniors, and its disabled during hard times. This is a defining moment. The votes you cast will determine what kind of assistance we can provide to millions of Americans across this country who count on their elected officials to put them first.
Director of Government Relations
Manager of Federal Advocacy