Letter to the House opposing H. Res. 243
June 04, 2013
On behalf of the 3 million members of the National Education Association (NEA), we urge you to VOTE NO on H. Res. 243 the rule to proceed to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2014 (H.R. 2216), because it includes a “deeming” provision to enforce the House Budget Resolution spending caps, which have resulted in a 302(b) allocation for the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee that is 18.6 percent below the final and devastating FY 2013 post-sequester level and 22.2 percent below the FY13 pre-sequester level. Simply put, cuts of this magnitude, especially for programs serving the nation’s students most in need, should be unthinkable. Votes associated with this issue may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 113th Congress.
We also wish to urge your opposition to any anti-worker amendments that may be offered during consideration of H.R. 2216, such as repeal of Davis-Bacon protections or prohibiting Project Labor Agreements. Project Labor Agreements for example, ensure that every employee has access to a fair wage, health care, and pension benefits so that he or she can support a family – the very nature of the American Dream. PLAs promote equality in opportunity and ensure that a fair wage is paid for a day’s work. Through important pro-worker protections such as PLAs, workers and their families have the chance to seize prosperity for themselves.
As for the funding allocations, the level of cuts already imposed by the indiscriminate across-the-board cuts of the sequester have taken federal funding back to pre-2004 levels, with scores of children being dropped from Head Start rolls, immediate cuts to schools served by Impact Aid, announced furloughs of educators who serve our military families, with additional harmful impacts expected as the next school year starts.
Yet the proposed FY14 allocation goes dramatically further with deeper cuts that would be devastating for students, schools, institutions of higher education and communities. Excluding Pell Grants, if the Department of Education’s discretionary budget were to be cut by 18.6 percent, FY14 would crater to levels below FY2002, the first year under the No Child Left Behind Act. During that time, our preK-12 schools are educating 2.22 million more students and our higher education institutions are educating 5.43 million more students. Put another way, while our nation’s students are now expected to be prepared to compete in a global economy, Congress would be suggesting that our schools can get by with educating more than 7.65 million more students with no additional resources. This defies commonsense.
Education permeates every aspect of the economic environment. A growing economy requires a capable and innovative workforce able to drive the country forward. The future of that workforce is dependent on investment in our student’s education today. Increases in educational attainment in the United States labor force from 1915-99 directly resulted in at least 23 percent of the overall growth in productivity, or around 10 percent of growth in gross domestic product.
The proposed funding allocations take us in precisely the opposite direction needed. Congress needs to replace the remaining sequester cuts, not cut deeper, with a balanced package that demands the wealthiest and corporations pay their fair share. Indiscriminately cutting investments to education in a race to the bottom shortchanges our students today and weakens our economy in the long run. Again, we urge you to VOTE NO on H. Res. 243.
Director of Government Relations