Letter to the full Congress on retaining rural schools and SCHIP in any new FY07 supplemental
May 03, 2007
On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we urge you to remember the emergency needs of our nation's children and public schools as you negotiate a new supplemental appropriations bill for fiscal year 2007. Specifically, we urge you to retain in any new bill two critical priorities that were included in the original supplemental:
Funding for the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, and
Additional funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
First, we urge you to include funding for a desperately-needed extension of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 . This program is critical to the survivability of over 775 rural counties and 4,400 schools near national forests in 42 states across the country. Prior to implementation of this program, schools in heavily timbered counties were in crisis, experiencing dramatic reductions in funding. The program has restored critical educational services for students in rural schools and prevented the closure of numerous isolated rural schools.
Unfortunately, the program expired at the end of 2006. Failure to provide immediate emergency funding will result in a substantial and devastating funding cut for rural counties across the country. In fact, a number of counties around the country have already begun sending out pink slips notifying employees of potential lay-offs.
We also urge you to retain the $650 million for SCHIP included in the original supplemental. SCHIP provides states with grants to help provide health care for low-income children. Quality health care is essential for the well-being of our nation's children and families. Children's access to quality health care can impact on their ability to learn and succeed in school. Yet, too many families lack insurance to cover needed health services. In fact, estimates indicate that as many as 11 million children do not receive the health care they need. The National Governors Association has warned that coverage in the program will be jeopardized without immediate action to prevent federal funding shortfalls.
Immediate action is needed on both of these programs; neither can wait for the regular FY08 appropriations process. We urge you to retain funding for these two urgent priorities in any new supplemental legislation.
Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations
Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy