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Letter to the Senate on the Continuing Resolution

March 13, 2013

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the more than three million members of the National Education Association, we urge you to vote NO on H.R. 933, the Continuing Resolution (CR) for FY13, which fails to eliminate devastating and arbitrary across-the-board cuts to education. We urge you to vote YES on an amendment by Chairman Harkin to add the labor-HHS-education appropriations bill to the CR. Votes associated with these issues may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 113th Congress.

We oppose the CR on the grounds that it unfortunately accepts the sequester’s indiscriminate, across-the-board cuts, slashing non-defense discretionary programs by 5 percent—the equivalent of cutting nearly all education programs and Head Start by roughly $3 billion. Services or financial aid will be reduced, eliminated, or costs shifted to the states for more than 7 million of our neediest students, and the jobs of tens of thousands of educators put at risk when Congress should be working to help create jobs.  

While we are deeply disappointed that the underlying bill continues these across-the-board cuts, we deeply appreciate Chairman Harkin’s efforts to mitigate some of the damage, and offer our support for his amendment to add to the CR the labor-HHS-education appropriations bill with targeted funding increases. We are pleased that the Chairman’s amendment focuses on extra help for programs that support our neediest students, such as Title I and IDEA, and that it would help cushion the blow to Impact Aid, Promise Neighborhoods, rural education, and TRIO. We urge you to vote YES on the Harkin amendment.  

The underlying bill is a different story: It takes us in the wrong direction as a nation. The across-the-board cuts mean education funding will be rolled back to pre-2004 levels, despite the fact that we have nearly 6 million more students in our schools today (counting higher education) than we did back then. Students will feel the blow directly as fewer educators, reading coaches, and counselors lead to ballooning class sizes, elimination of tutoring and after-school programs, and less individual attention.   

We oppose the federal pay freeze included in the CR, which affects educators who work on Department of Defense bases. These public servants, who educate and serve the sons and daughters of our men and women in uniform, already face furloughs of as many as 22 days between now and the end of the fiscal year—the equivalent of a 20 percent pay cut because of the sequester. They and their students deserve better. 

Instead of asking the middle class and students to make further sacrifices, we should be calling on corporations and the very wealthy to pay their fair share. As just one example, closing the loophole that allows corporations to defer taxes on offshore profits could generate some $600 billion in revenue over 10 years, or nearly twice the $337 billion needed to fully fund the federal share of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Instead, the CR cuts special education funding by hundreds of millions of dollars.

Slashing education funding is short-sighted. By allowing the sequester cuts to continue, the CR harms our students as well as our economy—today and in the future. We urge you to vote NO on H.R. 933. 

Sincerely, 

Mary Kusler
Director, Government Relations