Letter to the House supporting the economic stimulus package and an extension of the Secure Rural Schools program
On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we strongly urge you to VOTE YES on the economic stimulus package scheduled for floor debate today.
As educators, NEA members are witnessing the impacts of the economic crisis firsthand. Schools are seeing record numbers of students who are homeless or poor enough to qualify for free school meals, and record numbers of students needing donated backpacks and school supplies, because their families cannot afford to buy them. Rising fuel costs are forcing school districts to take drastic measures, including trimming or eliminating bus service, cutting all field trips, and shortening the school week. Some states have already been forced to layoff school staff.
As many as 27 states are predicting deficits for FY09 of at least $25 billion. A growing number of states have made or are considering harmful cuts in health care, education, and other vital services. Congress must act now before states are forced to make further devastating cuts.
The proposed stimulus package would help address these urgent needs by providing,
- A temporary increase in the federal Medicaid match. Such an increase is a proven, effective way to provide relief to states and protect the health care of millions of Americans. The package includes $19.6 billion to increase the Federal share of Medicaid costs by four percent.
- Job creation through investments in infrastructure, including school construction. The package includes $2 billion for school construction, an amount that would be sufficient to create an estimated 32,300 jobs.
- A one-year extension of the Secure Rural Schools Act. These funds are critically urgent to over 775 rural counties and 4,400 schools nationwide that are facing permanent cuts to teaching positions and school and road improvement programs. Nearly 7,000 teachers and educational staff across the country have received pink slips and will otherwise not have a job when the new school year begins this September.
- Increases in food stamp benefits and other nutrition assistance for families struggling to survive in the face of rapidly rising food prices.
- An extension of Unemployment assistance to those who have exhausted their benefits. Specifically, the package extends unemployment benefits by seven weeks in all states and another thirteen weeks in high unemployment states.
Again, we strongly urge your support for this package.
Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations
Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy