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Letter to the Senate Budget Committee on Chairman Enzi's FY16 Budget Resolution

March 19, 2015

Dear Senator:  

On behalf of the three million members of the National Education Association (NEA), and the students they serve, we urge you to VOTE NO on Chairman Enzi’s FY16 Budget Resolution being marked up in the Senate Budget Committee today. Unfortunately, the proposed budget reflects the wrong priorities for our nation. Perpetuating the austerity approach, this budget cuts $4.5 trillion in investments over the next decade sacrificing the well-being of the middle class and our most vulnerable populations without adding a penny more in revenue from corporations or the wealthy. Actions in committee on this issue may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 114th Congress.  

We urge Congress to work in a bipartisan fashion and build upon the work of the FY2014-15 Murray-Ryan deal to craft a budget that ends sequester level cuts and leaves room for key investments in formula-funded programs like Title I and IDEA, which help our students most in need. 

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

  • The $236 billion in cuts to non-defense discretionary (NDD – education, health care, job training, etc.) called for in Chairman Enzi’s budget proposal. Under sequestration, NDD spending will already fall in 2016 into a tie for its lowest level on record as a share of GDP — and then set a new record low in 2017 and every year thereafter. This budget’s cuts come on top of the already record low levels. By 2025, total funding for NDD programs would be at least 24 percent below the 2010 level adjusted for inflation, thus forcing even deeper cuts to crucial investments like education, depriving students of the opportunity they all deserve for a quality education.
  • Cutting Pell Grant awards by eliminating all mandatory funding for the next 10 years. This will make college more costly when Congress should be trying to help make college more affordable for more students.
  • Slashing Medicaid, which provides healthcare for one-third of our nation’s children, by turning it into a block grant program. Chairman Enzi’s proposal cuts Medicaid and other health programs by $400 billion over ten years, increasing costs for states resulting infewer funds available for investments in education and other vital programs. 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. Further, this cut will shift costs to the states resulting in fewer funds being available for education and other vital programs. In addition, this proposal would cut Medicare by $435 billion without specifying how or where in the program.
  • Slashing Function 600 by $660 billion over the next 10 years. This budget category includes SNAP, school meals, and nutrition programs. 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.
  • Repealing the Affordable Care Act which 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. 

We are pleased to see the inclusion of the reserve fund which will leave the door open for a bipartisan budget deal later this year that could restore sequester cuts to non-defense discretionary and defense funding. The federal budget should ensure everyone has a fair shot and make the investments necessary for economic growth. Chairman Enzi’s proposed budget runs counter to our values as a nation.  

We urge you to Vote No on Chairman Enzi’s FY 16 budget resolution, which endangers our economic recovery and also restrains future economic growth by depriving the nation of key investments in rebuilding our infrastructure and supporting high-value research and development, in addition to education. We look forward to working with this Committee and members of Congress to advance policies that give all families a fair shot at reaching the American dream.  

Sincerely,  

Mary Kusler
Director, Government Relations