Letter to the co-chairs of the “Super Committee” – Senator Murray and Representative Hensarling
September 16, 2011
Dear Senator Murray and Representative Hensarling:
On behalf of the 3.2 million dedicated members of the National Education Association, who work tirelessly every day in support of our nation’s children, we offer the following comments with regard to the work of the "Super Committee."
NEA believes that the Super Committee must take a balanced approach that aims, above all, to put Americans back to work, while protecting the interests of Main Street and our most vulnerable populations, and making sure that those most able to do so pay their fair share. To this end, we urge the committee to:
- Focus on creating jobs. We strongly support the President’s plan to keep educators working and students learning. Investing in public education creates American jobs and ensures that our children won’t fall through the cracks, and instead will have the resources they need to succeed in the worldwide economy. When we save jobs in our nation’s public schools, students are the winners: they receive more individual attention, more help from counselors, more after school help and more opportunities to succeed
In addition, creating education jobs will help jump start economic recovery. Investing in public education has a greater net positive impact on economic growth than any other type of investment, including tax cuts. When we invest in public education, lower and middle incomes grow even more than upper incomes, positively impacting businesses’ bottom line because lower-income people spend their new income on consumer goods and services. In a typical state, investing two percent more in public education generates 3,900 new jobs and $92 million in new personal income. An equal tax cut generates less than half those gains — 1,500 new jobs and $41 million in new personal income.
- Invest in school modernization. We strongly support the President’s plan to invest $30 billion in school infrastructure. Our children deserve manageable class-sizes and modernized and energy-efficient school buildings. On average, our public schools are more than 40 years old and need an estimated $500 billion in repairs and upgrades. Construction and building repair generally create 9,000-10,000 jobs per billion dollars spent. Eliminating just half the backlog in needed repairs and improvements would, over a period of years, create more than two million much-needed jobs.
- Oppose additional discretionary funding cuts. Discretionary funding for the next decade already took a significant hit in round one of deficit reduction. We strongly oppose additional cuts that will unavoidably harm critical investments in education. America’s students have already "given" toward deficit reduction; their future should not be compromised more.
- Protect those most in need and those who rely on core safety net programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Cuts to Medicaid would be especially harmful as one-third of all children in the U.S. are served by Medicaid. Children who lack access to health care services are less likely to come to school healthy and ready to learn and to succeed academically. Slashing Medicaid funding would also place a drastic strain on struggling state budgets and further squeeze education funding.
We oppose any cuts to Social Security or Medicare benefits. These essential programs did not contribute to the nation’s deficit and should not be cut to address it.
- Ensure a balanced approach to deficit reduction that includes revenues. We strongly believe that those most able to do so must pay their fair share toward deficit reduction. Significant revenue should be generated by scaling back tax breaks for the wealthiest and tax subsidies for corporations. It should not come from taxing health care benefits, which would disproportionately hurt the middle class, especially women.
- Help families impacted by the housing crisis. We strongly support provisions in the President’s American Jobs Act that would create subsidies and incentives to help the eight million Americans who are under water on their mortgages stay in their homes. Not only does this provide important relief to educators and their families who are struggling to make ends meet, but schools districts will benefit from a strengthened community tax base—the more people who can keep their homes the better it is for local communities. Many Americans do not realize that forty percent of all education funding is derived from local property taxes, which have taken an enormous hit. Given the avarice associated with the mortgage industry over the last 10 to 15 years—in the form of predatory lending practices and unchecked Wall Street speculation in this sector—local communities and their school systems have borne the brunt of a housing crisis they didn’t create.
We understand the seriousness of the task before the Super Committee and hope you can come together in support of a plan that will set our nation on the right course for a secure future. We urge you to fight for a balanced approach that protects the interests of Main Street America, puts our nation back to work, and ensure a strong, competitive nation for the 21st Century.
We thank you for your consideration of our comments on these critical issues.
Director of Government Relations
Manager of Federal Advocacy