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Letter to the House Budget Committee on the Ryan Budget

March 12, 2013

Dear Representative: 

On behalf of the more than three million members of the National Education Association, we would like to express our strong opposition to the FY 2014 budget proposal being marked-up in committee this week. 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 arbitrary budget targets.  

We urge you to:

  • Vote NO on the budget presented by Chairman Ryan.
  • Vote YES on an amendment by Representative Castor to help preserve education jobs, and help rebuild up to 350,000 crumbling schools and community college buildings.
  • Vote YES on an amendment by Representative Cicilline to block the proposed FY 2014 education budget cuts included in the Ryan plan.
  • Vote YES on an amendment by Representative Jeffries to keep student loan rates from doubling later this year. 

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 for FY 2014—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 GOP plan cuts even more. It extends the spending caps established by the sequester for two additional years and freezes Pell Grants for ten years, despite the continued rise in college tuition. Fifty million students, including the most vulnerable—students in high-poverty communities and students with disabilities—would experience the brunt of the cuts directly in the form of larger class sizes, less individualized attention and support in class, and fewer classroom teachers and aides for students with special needs.
  • Slashing Medicaid, which provides healthcare for one-third of our nation’s children. At a time when governors from both parties are working to expand healthcare benefits under this vital program, the Ryan proposal cuts it by more than $750 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. Families with access to regular healthcare are more likely to be healthy and create a better learning environment within the home.
  • Slashing funding for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. Most SNAP recipients are children or seniors. Every day, NEA members see firsthand that hungry children cannot learn, and that access to an adequate and healthy diet is essential to academic success. The link between good nutrition and learning is well established. Hungry children are often irritable, feel ill, and find it hard to concentrate. Students who come to class well-nourished have fewer behavioral and attendance problems, and higher test scores.
  • 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. Tens of millions of Americans would lose coverage, including many of the students sitting in NEA members’ classrooms. Students struggle to learn if they do not come to school healthy. Families with access to regular medical care are more likely to keep the entire family healthy and create a better learning environment within the home. 
  • Shrinking the federal workforce by ten percent by 2015. Every day, federal employees provide essential services to the American people, including educating the children of our nation’s military families. Educators at the nation’s Department of Defense schools already face furloughs of as many as 22 days between now and the end of the fiscal year—the equivalent of a 20 percent pay cut because of the across-the-board cuts in FY 2013. They and their students deserve better.
  • Refusing to ask the wealthiest and corporations to pay their fair share. While the Ryan budget takes every opportunity to cut programs aimed at helping the least 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 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 than others. It places the burden for balancing the budget squarely on the shoulders of the middle class and the poor, while failing to ask the wealthy or corporations to pay their fair share. In short, it makes a mockery of equal opportunity and shared responsibility. 

We urge you to reject this ill-conceived proposal.  


Mary Kusler
Director, Government Relations