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NEA’s Letter to the House on the Ryan FY15 Budget Resolution (H Con Res 96)

April 08, 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 (H. Con. Res. 96) being brought to the House floor this week, and our support for a few alternative budgets that have been proposed. The budget should reflect the priorities of our nation and should especially meet the needs of our children and their education. 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 on this issue may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 113th Congress.

In addition to urging a NO vote on the Ryan budget, we urge you to:

  • Vote YES on the Democratic substitute budget offered by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). This budget sets the right priorities for the nation: calling for tax fairness to generate needed revenue; replacing the Non-Defense Discretionary sequester cuts starting in 2016; urging new investments in education including early childhood education; extending unemployment benefits for a year; including comprehensive immigration reform (which will lower the deficit by $900 billion); and, protecting Medicaid and Medicare.
  • Vote YES on the budget presented by the Congressional Progressive Caucus offered by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ). This budget would close costly corporate tax loopholes to allow for investments in key programs like education; repeal sequestration; extend unemployment benefits; and, calls for raising the minimum wage.
  • Vote YES on the budget presented by the Congressional Black Caucus offered by Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH). This budget would replace the remaining years of sequestration cuts, invest in education and job training, including funding for school modernization and education jobs, and raise significant new revenue.
  • Vote NO on the budget presented by the Republican Study Committee offered by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA). This budget goes beyond the Ryan proposal in terms of balancing the budget on the backs of those least able to afford it. It would cut Non-Defense Discretionary funding more deeply than sequestration, rolling it back to 2008 levels and then freezing it until 2017, in order to provide deep tax breaks to those who need it the least.

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. 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. To see the effects of the drastic cuts in this budget on vital formula grant programs please view the following charts: Title I, Head Start, IDEA.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Repealing 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 reinstate the fear of being denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition and eliminate 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