Letter to Committee on Appropriations
March 1, 2007
On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we would like to offer our views as you craft supplemental appropriations legislation for fiscal year 2007. Specifically, we urge you to address two critical priorities:
- Funding for the Forest County and Schools Program, and
- Additional funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
First, we urge you to include in the supplemental emergency funding for an extension of the Forest County and Schools Program . This program, authorized in the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-393) is critical to the survivability of over 775 rural counties and 4,400 schools near national forests in 42 states across the country. The program has made a real difference for schools in rural, timber-dependent counties, by ensuring them a consistent funding stream. 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, P.L. 106-393 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. Congress has only a short time to act before counties have to start implementing cuts to schools and services. 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 provide $750 million for SCHIP in the 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. This week, the National Governors Association warned that coverage in the program will be jeopardized without immediate action to prevent federal funding shortfalls and called on Congress to immediately pass legislation that would prevent any state from having a federal funding shortfall prior to reauthorization.
We thank you for your consideration of our views on these important issues.
Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations
Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy