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Letter to the House Budget Committee on Chairman Ryan’s FY15 Budget Resolution

April 01, 2014

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the more than three million members of the National Education Association, and the students they serve, we would like to express our strong opposition to Chairman Ryan’s FY 2015 budget resolution being marked-up in committee tomorrow. The budget should reflect the priorities of our nation. Unfortunately, the proposed budget reflects the wrong priorities—by choice, it sacrifices the well-being of the middle class and our most vulnerable populations to give deep tax breaks to those who need it the least. Actions in committee on this issue may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 113th Congress.

We strongly oppose Chairman Ryan’s proposed budget because it takes us in the wrong direction as a nation. Specifically, we oppose:

  • Doubling down on deep cuts to education and other domestic programs. Spending on domestic programs is already at its lowest level as a percentage of the economy since the 1960s, but the Ryan plan cuts even more. This proposal worsens the sequester cuts by walking away from the bipartisan budget agreement from December and shifting all of the cuts to Non-Defense Discretionary (NDD) programs. Funding available for NDD programs would be reduced by almost 9% in FY2016, moving up to an alarming 22% by FY2024. Compared to the U.S. Department of Education’s discretionary baseline, the reductions under the Ryan budget resolution are even greater -- $9.3 billion, or 13.1% in 2016 alone (see attachment). It also eliminates mandatory funding for Pell Grants and freezes the maximum grant for the next 10 years, reducing college access and affordability, when Congress should be trying to help make college more affordable for more students. Fifty million students, including the most vulnerable—students in high-poverty communities and students with disabilities—would experience the brunt of the education cuts directly in the form of larger class sizes, less individualized attention, and fewer classroom teachers and support staff.
  • Slashing Medicaid, which provides healthcare for one-third of our nation’s children. The Ryan proposal cuts Medicaid by more than $700 billion over ten years. Every day, NEA members see firsthand the link between access to healthcare and children’s success in school. Students struggle to learn if they do not come to school healthy.
  • Slashing funding for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. SNAP, along with other mandatory programs, are slashed by nearly $1 trillion by the Ryan proposal. Such deep cuts to SNAP would result in ending assistance to low-income families with children at a time when 22% of children are living in poverty. In addition, SNAP would be turned into block grants — leaving states with the tough decision of determining who will no longer receive assistance. Educators know first-hand that hungry children struggle to learn and that access to an adequate and healthy diet is essential to academic success. The clear link between good nutrition and learning is evident in schools across the nation every day. According to the Nutrition Cognition Initiative at Tufts University, continuous low nutritional intake affects factors such as motivation and attentiveness, which can have a negative impact on learning.
  • Voucherizing Medicare and shifting costs to seniors. Under the proposed plan, seniors would receive “premium support”—fixed payments to help buy coverage, which would likely fail to keep pace with rising healthcare costs. The plan also could also lead to the gradual demise of traditional Medicare by making the pool of beneficiaries smaller, older, and sicker—and increasingly costly to cover.
  • Repeals the Affordable Care Act. Repealing the Affordable Care Act would be devastating to the millions of children and their families who would lose healthcare. A repeal of ACA would take away the fear from being denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition and the right for parents to continue to cover their children on their health policies until age 26. The Ryan proposal would also repeal the Medicaid expansion for states, further diminishing health care coverage for those who need it most.
  • Refusing to ask the wealthiest and corporations to pay their fair share. While the Ryan budget takes every opportunity to deeply cut programs, including investments in education and those aimed at helping the most vulnerable among us, the plan asks nothing more of the wealthiest individuals and big corporations. In fact, it proposes cutting the tax rates for the wealthiest from 39.6 percent to 25 percent, and cutting the tax rates for corporations from 35 percent to 25 percent.

The federal budget should ensure everyone a fair shot and make the investments necessary for economic growth. Chairman Ryan’s proposed budget runs completely counter to our values as a nation. It asks children, working families, seniors, and people with disabilities to make greater sacrifices in order to provide deep cuts to those who need it least. We need an economy that works for all of us, not just the wealthy. We look forward to working with Congress and the president to advance policies that give all families a fair shot at reaching the American dream.

We urge you Vote No on the Ryan budget resolution.

Sincerely, 

Mary Kusler
Director, Government Relations