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Letter to the Senate urging support of the Rockefeller amendment - 01/28/08

January 28, 2008

Dear Senator:


On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we urge your support for an amendment to be offered by Senator Rockefeller to the economic stimulus package that would provide $15 billion in state aid -- equally divided between an increase in Medicaid and targeted grants to states. Actions in committee associated with this issue may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 110th Congress.

As our nation faces a possible recession, state fiscal conditions are deteriorating. In fact, 19 states already report facing budget shortfalls for fiscal year 2009 (which begins for most states on July 1). Fourteen of them have quantified projected shortfalls, which total at least $29 billion for these states. The number of states facing shortfalls is expected to rise sharply in coming weeks as more states complete budget reviews. States facing such significant shortfalls are likely to institute hefty cuts in education, health care, education, and other priorities. For example:

  • California's governor is proposing a $433 per student cut in state aid to education. With the loss of federal and local matching funds, it would translate to a loss of $787 per student.

  • Maryland, despite raising taxes substantially, has to implement $550 million in cuts that will include cuts in school aid.

  • In Alabama, the Education Fund -- the primary source of state tax dollars for education -- is expected to be short hundreds of millions of dollars in FY09.

  • The Arizona joint legislative budget committee staff, under the direction of the appropriation chairs, identified $228 million in cuts to K-12 funding formula.

  • In Nevada, the governor has proposed two separate plans for reducing K-12 spending. One delays expansion of full-day kindergarten, affecting over 5,800 children. The other reduces per pupil spending by $400 per student.

  • In New York, the governor proposes rolling back increases to schools having the hardest time improving test scores.

The Rockefeller amendment would help stem these cuts by providing targeted fiscal relief to states. Passage of this amendment is critical to education, health care, and the overall health of our economy. 

Again, we urge your support for this important amendment. 

Sincerely,

Diane Shust
Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody
Manager of Federal Advocacy