Letters to Congress and the Administration

CEF letter on FY 2018 caps and Senate appropriations bill

September 12, 2017

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader, U.S. Senate
S-230 The Capitol
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Charles Schumer
Minority Leader, U.S. Senate
322 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator McConnell and Senator Schumer:

On behalf of the Committee for Education Funding (CEF), a coalition of 114 national education associations and institutions spanning the education continuum from early learning to postgraduate education to adult education and education enhancements, we are writing to thank the Appropriations Committee Leadership for supporting education in the Appropriations Committee’s fiscal year 2018 bill September 7.  We commend the Committee for producing a bipartisan bill, but the difficult budget limitations the Subcommittee and full Committee endeavored to balance only highlight the need for Congress to eliminate the sequester-level discretionary caps.

We are pleased that the bill provides small funding increases to a handful of programs, but are concerned that the fiscal year 2018 funding levels are only possible because of an offsetting rescission of $2.6 billion in previously appropriated funding for Pell grants.  That rescission could jeopardize the Pell grant program’s ability to continue to support student access to college given the uncertainty of changing economic conditions and demand as well as the future federal resources.

We understand that the bill’s austere allocation is still a placeholder, and that the non-defense total across all of the Committee’s funding bills violates the discretionary cap for fiscal year 2018.  As work continues this fall on budget issues including final fiscal year 2018 funding, CEF encourages Congress to eliminate the sequester-level discretionary caps and maintain the long-standing principle of parity by matching any increases in the defense caps with equal increases in non-defense caps.  Eliminating sequestration caps would allow Congress to make investments that are essential to our nation’s security for both nondefense and defense programs.

Educational attainment is inextricably tied to both individual success and the nation’s economic strength. Students and schools are counting on strong federal education investments to ensure equitable access to high quality education from preschool to higher education and career and technical and adult education, and to fill gaps where local and state funding is insufficient or where new needs arise. We strongly urge Congress to repeal the Budget Control Act sequester-level caps and significantly increase the federal education investment in order to maximize opportunities for students and their families, schools, and our nation.

Sincerely,

Jocelyn Bissonnette
President

Sheryl Cohen
Executive Director

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CEF letter on FY 2018 appropriations bill

July 17, 2017

The Honorable Rodney Frelinghuysen, Chairman
The Honorable Nita M. Lowey, Vice Chairwoman
House Appropriations Committee
H-305 Capitol Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Tom Cole, Chairman
The Honorable Rosa DeLauro, Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
House Appropriations Committee
2358-B Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Cole and Ranking Member DeLauro:

On behalf of the Committee for Education Funding (CEF), a coalition of 114 national education associations and institutions spanning the education continuum from early learning to postgraduate education to adult education and education enhancements, we are writing to voice our concerns regarding the Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations bill that the Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee reported out on July 13th.

We recognize the difficult budget limitations the Subcommittee endeavored to balance, and commend your leadership in providing funding increases to a handful of programs. However, we also recognize that in order to meet an arbitrary nondefense discretionary level that is well below the already austere level set by sequestration, the bill reduces and, in some cases, even eliminates vital federal education and workforce investments. The resulting bill will harm teaching and learning, jeopardize the financial security of the nation’s primary student aid grant program, and pull resources away from vital services outside the classroom and for workforce readiness.

Overall, the bill cuts discretionary resources for the Department of Education by $4 billion (6 percent) below the comparable FY 2017 level that includes rescissions of previously appropriated Pell grant funding. Even excluding those rescissions, the bill cuts education funding by $2.4 billion (3.5 percent) below the 2017 level. These cuts negatively affect students, teachers, and schools across the country. This bill provides scant modest increases sprinkled across a few programs in the face of steep cuts to many others – leaving many education programs insufficiently funded to fulfill their intended goals and meet student needs.

CEF continues to request that Congress eliminate the sequester-level discretionary caps and to maintain the long-standing principle of parity by matching any increases in the defense caps with equal increases in non-defense caps. We are encouraged that Chairman Cole stated his willingness to renegotiate the bill’s “initial allocation” to be able “to plug holes and enhance national priorities.” In fact, these cuts could be avoided if Congress were to eliminate sequestration caps, allowing investments that are essential to our nation’s security for both nondefense and defense programs.

Educational attainment is inextricably tied to both individual success and the nation’s economic strength. Students and schools are counting on strong federal education investments to ensure equitable access to high quality education from preschool to higher education and career and technical and adult education, and to fill gaps where local and state funding is insufficient or where new needs arise. We strongly urge Congress to repeal the Budget Control Act sequester-level caps and significantly increase the federal education investment in order to maximize opportunities for students and their families, schools, and our nation.

Sincerely,

Jocelyn Bissonnette
President

Sheryl Cohen
Executive Director

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CEF letter on President’s 2018 budget

May 25, 2017

Dear Member of Congress:

On behalf of the Committee for Education Funding (CEF), the nation’s oldest and largest education coalition of more than 110 education institutions and organizations reflecting the broad range of the education community, we write to strongly oppose President Trump’s fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget. The budget disinvests in education along the entire continuum, cutting $9.2 billion compared with the new funding Congress provided in 2017. It cuts federal support for preschoolers, students in elementary school, children who use afterschool programs, high schoolers seeking preparation for the workforce, adult learners, teachers and school leaders, schools and institutions, and low-income Americans who rely on federal aid to go to college. The President’s budget also eliminates funding for education-related services including libraries and museums, and cuts student loans by $143 billion over ten years.

The size and scope of the President’s education cuts are devastating.  Investments in education currently account for only about 2 percent of the federal budget, but the President’s FY 2018 budget reduces the share for education to 1.8 percent as part of its deep, multi-year cut in nondefense discretionary funding. The budget’s drastic cuts to the federal investment in education will weaken student achievement, worsen the opportunity gap, withdraw needed support that helps students graduate from high school ready for a career or for college, and make college less affordable and attainable.

Instead of using the President’s budget as a starting point for funding negotiations, we urge you instead to first address the need to raise the austerity level sequester caps on nondefense discretionary funding, which for FY 2018 is below the level Congress provided for FY 2017. Eliminating the sequester caps and maintaining the long-standing principle of parity – by matching increases in defense and nondefense discretionary caps that has been in place since the sequester went into effect – will allow Congress to increase the federal education investment to maximize opportunities for students and their families, schools, and our nation.

Investing in education pays dividends immediately and in the long term. We urge you to reject the President’s harmful education cuts and start with a level of nondefense funding that allows needed investments in education that will benefit us all.

Sincerely,

Jocelyn Bissonnette
President

Sheryl Cohen
Executive Director

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Joint CEF letter advocating higher 2018 allocation for Labor-HHS-Education programs

May 8, 2017

The Honorable Thad Cochran
Chairman, Committee on Appropriations
U.S. Senate

The Honorable Patrick Leahy
Vice Chair, Committee on Appropriations
U.S. Senate

The Honorable Rodney Frelinghuysen
Chairman, Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives

The Honorable Nita Lowey
Ranking Member, Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives

The almost 800 undersigned organizations—representing the full range of stakeholders supporting the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies appropriations bill (Labor-HHS)—urge you to increase the fiscal year (FY) 2018 302(b) subcommittee allocation for these programs and services. The activities administered by the departments and agencies under Labor-HHS’s jurisdiction serve a broad range of constituencies and needs, but they all share a common, fundamental goal of strengthening this nation by improving Americans’ lives. The federal government must invest sufficient funding to meet that goal.

Despite Labor-HHS’s profound impact on health and well-being, child development, educational and skills attainment, and productivity, its programs and services continue to be short-changed in the annual appropriations process. For example, with the much-needed sequestration relief provided through the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 provided nondefense discretionary programs with a 6.9 percent increase overall, but programs in the Labor-HHS bill only received a 3.3 percent increase over 2015 levels. As a result, funding for Americans’ health, education, workforce, and social services programs—representing more than half of all nondefense discretionary spending—rose less than half as much as the nondefense average. Today, funding for Labor-HHS programs is almost 12 percent below FY 2010 levels, adjusted for inflation. Under President Trump’s budget request, the Labor-HHS allocation would be roughly 15.5 percent lower than current levels, and more than 25 percent below FY 2010 in inflation-adjusted terms.

Continuing to underfund these programs and agencies is irresponsible and unsustainable. The effects of shortchanging the Labor-HHS allocation are:

  • Slowing scientific discovery in basic, biomedical, and health services research that prevents disease, improves health, and curbs medical costs;
  • Eroding the public health infrastructure and workforce, limiting our ability to respond to public health crises and monitor health trends for new and emerging threats;
  • Hindering efforts to close troubling achievement gaps, raise overall student achievement, and increase high school graduation, college access, and college completion rates;
  • Leaving far too many low-income children without access to high quality preschool and other early learning opportunities;
  • Hindering efforts of local employers to fill approximately five million job openings in the U.S. because too many workers lack the necessary postsecondary education and credentials required for these positions;
  • Preventing millions of workers from accessing the critical workforce and job training services that Congress overwhelmingly authorized in 2014; and
  • Ignoring the needs of individuals without a high school credential and who need a pathway back to education and employment.

Without an increase in the Labor-HHS 302(b) allocation, it will be impossible to meaningfully increase investments in important initiatives—such as expanding medical research at the National Institutes of Health, implementing the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act, or achieving the goals contained in the bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act —without deep cuts in other equally important initiatives.

We urge you to commit to improving the lives of Americans by increasing the Labor-HHS appropriations allocation for FY 2018. More broadly, we remain eager to work with you to help produce another bipartisan budget agreement to stop sequestration and raise the caps for these and other nondefense discretionary programs.

We appreciate your consideration of this recommendation. If you have questions about this letter, please contact:
Emily Holubowich, Coalition for Health Funding (202-484-1100 or eholubowich@dc-crd.com)
Sheryl Cohen, Committee for Education Funding (202-327-8125 or cohen@cef.org)
Kermit Kaleba, Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce (202-223-8991 or kermitk@nationalskillscoalition.org)

Cc: Members, House and Senate Subcommittees on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, Committees on Appropriations

Please click here for full letter and list of signatories 

 

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CEF letter on 2017 Omnibus

May 3, 2017

Dear Member of Congress:

On behalf of the Committee for Education Funding (CEF), a coalition of more than 100 education institutions and organizations reflecting the broad spectrum of the education community, we want to express our views on the Consolidated Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2017. We acknowledge that the bill demonstrates the importance of federal investments in education across the continuum, from early childhood education and elementary and secondary education to higher education, as well as career and adult education and other education-related programs. We also appreciate that Congress completed the appropriations process, and funding is provided program by program, rather than through a continuing resolution that forfeits the ability to make necessary changes. However, we are disappointed funding for the Department of Education is cut by $1.1 billion after accounting for rescissions and that funding is being provided so late in the fiscal year, making it incredibly difficult for schools, districts, and students to plan.

We recognize the challenge of crafting appropriations bills given the tight spending caps for fiscal year 2017.  For this reason, CEF continues to strongly urge Congress to eliminate the austerity-level discretionary caps and to maintain the long-standing principle of parity by matching any increases in the defense caps with equal increases in non-defense caps. If Congress allows the full sequester under the Budget Control Act to remain in force, the challenge of writing appropriations bills will worsen for fiscal year 2018, when the cap on non-defense discretionary appropriations is even lower than fiscal year 2017.

Investments in education strengthen our nation by creating a well-educated population prepared to compete in a rapidly changing world, yet education funding has been the target of deep cuts since January 2011 even though education funding accounts for only 2 percent of the federal budget. On the discretionary side of the budget, funding for programs for fiscal year 2017, exclusive of Pell grants, is almost $1 billion below the level provided for fiscal year 2010. Many education programs are not funded sufficiently to fulfill their intended goals and meet student needs.

Educational attainment is strongly tied to both individual success and the nation’s economic strength. Students and schools are counting on a strong federal education investment to ensure access to high quality education from preschool to higher education and career and technical and adult education, and to fill gaps where local and state funding is insufficient or where new needs arise.  In addition, students and schools are looking for help with the costs of critical educational services, such as special education. We urge Congress to repeal the Budget Control Act sequester-level caps and significantly increase the federal education investment in order to maximize opportunities for students and their families, schools, and our nation.

Sincerely,

Jocelyn Bissonnette, President
Sheryl Cohen, Executive Director

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Testimony in support of increasing education investment for FY 2018

March 8, 2017

Written testimony for the record, House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee

On behalf of the Committee for Education Funding (CEF), we urge you to increase investments in education to an appropriate level in the fiscal year 2018 funding bill for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies. CEF, the nation’s oldest and largest education coalition, is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that reflects the broad spectrum of the education community from early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, and higher education, to adult and workforce education including students, teachers and faculty, parents, administrators, specialized instructional support personnel, librarians, other school personnel, and school board members. CEF recommends that FY 2018 be the beginning of a glide path that increases investments in education to 5 percent of the federal budget.

Federal investments in education are critical for future economic growth, yet for several years education programs have been the targets of deep cuts.  Congress has eliminated 50 education programs since 2010, and funding for the Department of Education is now below what it was in 2010, excluding the Pell grant program.  Spending on education accounts for just 2 percent of the federal budget even though public schools are struggling to meet the needs of all of their students, costs make college unattainable to many, and graduates are now burdened by $1.3 trillion of student loan debt. Any additional funding cuts or program eliminations would jeopardize the ability of the federal government to ensure an equitable education for all students and, thus, a strong economy for all Americans.

Education spending is among the most cost effective investments the government can make, paying dividends for both the students themselves and the economy as a whole.  Every $1 invested in early childhood education saves at least $7 in later societal costs and students who graduate from college earn more and have lower unemployment rates than those with just a high school degree.  Those with more education earn dramatically more over their lifetime, pay more in taxes, and have higher employment rates. Countries with higher educational achievement have greater economic growth. Thus, federal investments in education not only improve access to high quality education for all students, but are also the foundation for a strong economy and a secure future.

We recognize the recent reduction in the federal investment in education is due in part to the tight constraints of the discretionary spending caps. This is why CEF continues to strongly urge the elimination of the austerity-level caps. Even after a bipartisan vote to raise the 2016 and 2017 caps for defense and non-defense discretionary funding by equal amounts – maintaining the concept of parity between defense and non-defense spending that has been in place since the sequester went into effect – the result was the low level of education investment described above. The sequester returns in full force in fiscal year 2018, tightening the budget even further for both defense and non-defense programs. If Congress chooses to raise or eliminate the defense cap, it is vital that the non-defense discretionary cap be raised by an equal amount to ensure that we have the resources necessary to ensure security and opportunity for students, their families, and our nation.

To keep America strong and be prepared to compete in the global economy, we need to increase the federal investment in education.

Sincerely,

Jocelyn Bissonnette, President
Sheryl Cohen, Executive Director

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Letter in support of the federal investments in education

February 23, 2017

Dear Director Mulvaney:

We are reaching out to you on behalf of the Committee for Education Funding (CEF) in support of the federal investments in education that are critical for future economic growth. CEF – the nation’s oldest and largest education coalition – is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that reflects the broad spectrum of the education community. Our more than 100 member organizations represent early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, higher education, and adult and workforce education including students, teachers and faculty, parents, administrators, counselors, other school employees, librarians, school board members, and trustees from both the public and private sectors.

Federal investments in education not only improve access to high quality education and help with the costs of federally mandated services, such as special education, they also are the foundation for a strong economy and a secure future. Investing in education pays dividends for both the students themselves and the economy as a whole. Those with more education earn dramatically more over their lifetime, pay more in taxes, and have higher employment rates. Countries with higher educational achievement have greater economic growth.

For the last several years, education programs have been the targets of deep cuts; Congress has eliminated 50 education programs since 2010. Any additional funding cuts or program eliminations would jeopardize the ability of the federal government to ensure an equitable education for all students and, thus, a strong economy for all Americans.

Funding for the Department of Education is now below what it was in 2010, excluding the Pell grant program, and the appropriations bills that Congress is considering for fiscal year 2017 cut funding even more deeply. Further cuts to federal education appropriations will only compound the constraints caused by decreases in state and local education budgets; almost half of the states are on track to provide less formula funding this year than they did 10 years ago. In fact, spending on education accounts for just 2 percent of the federal budget even though public schools are struggling to meet the needs of all of their students, costs make college unattainable to many, and graduates are now burdened by $1.3 trillion of student loan debt.

We recognize that the recent reduction in the federal investment in education is due in part to the tight constraints of the discretionary spending caps. This is why CEF continues to strongly urge the elimination of the austerity-level caps. Even after a bipartisan vote to raise the 2016 and 2017 caps for defense and non-defense discretionary funding by equal amounts – maintaining the concept of parity between defense and non-defense spending that has been in place since the sequester went into effect – the result was the low level of education investment described above. This coming year the sequester returns in full force, tightening the budget even further for both defense and non-defense programs. It is vital that the non-defense discretionary and defense caps be raised by an equal amount to ensure that we have the resources necessary to ensure security and opportunity for students, their families, and our nation.

As you put together the President’s budget request we urge you to increase, not cut, the federal investment in education. We look forward to working with you and would be happy to be a resource to your staff on education funding.

Sincerely,

Jocelyn Bissonnette, President
Sheryl Cohen, Executive Director

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Letter urging support of a strong federal investment in the nation’s public education system

February 23, 2017

Dear Secretary DeVos:

We are reaching out to you on behalf of the Committee for Education Funding (CEF), the nation’s oldest and largest education coalition. CEF is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that reflects the broad spectrum of the education community. Our more than 100 member organizations represent early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, higher education, and adult and workforce education including students, teachers and faculty, parents, administrators, counselors, other school employees, librarians, school board members, and trustees from both the public and private sectors.

On behalf of our membership, we urge you to support a strong federal investment in the nation’s public education system. The federal education investment is crucial to ensure access to high quality education from pre-school to higher education, fill gaps where local and state funding is insufficient or where new priorities and needs arise, and help with the costs of federally mandated services, such as special education. Federal funding is targeted to where it is most needed – almost two thirds of appropriations for the Department of Education support teaching in low-income communities or aid for low-income college students.

Education programs have already been the target of deep cuts; Congress has eliminated 50 education programs since 2010. Any additional funding cuts or program eliminations would jeopardize the federal responsibility and commitment to ensure an equitable education for all students. Funding for the Department of Education is now below what it was in 2010, excluding the Pell grant program, and the appropriations bills that Congress is considering for fiscal year 2017 would cut funding even more deeply. Further cuts to federal education funding will only compound the current constraints caused by continuing decreases in state and local education budgets; almost half of the states are on track to provide less formula funding this year than they did 10 years ago.

Spending on education accounts for just 2 percent of the federal budget even though public schools are struggling to meet the needs of all of their students, costs make college unattainable to many, and graduates are now burdened with $1.3 trillion of student loan debt. Investing in education pays dividends for both the students themselves and the economy as a whole. Those with more education earn dramatically more over their lifetime, pay more in taxes, and have higher employment rates. Countries with higher educational achievement have greater economic growth. Accordingly, we urge you to increase, not cut, the federal investment in education.

We would be happy to meet with you to discuss our goals and your priorities for education funding. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Jocelyn Bissonnette, President
Sheryl Cohen, Executive Director

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CEF Letter on Continuing Resolution

September 9, 2016

Dear Member of Congress:

On behalf of the Committee for Education Funding (CEF), a coalition of 117 national education associations and institutions spanning early learning to postgraduate education, we urge you to quickly pass a short-term continuing resolution before the fiscal year ends on September 30. It is vital to take action to prevent a government shutdown, but then Congress must quickly pass full-year appropriations legislation that provides needed investments in education. A continuing resolution that goes beyond December would abdicate Congress’s responsibility to make program-by-program decisions to ensure that high-priority and effective federal programs are adequately funded.

We recognize the challenge of passing funding bills given the tight spending caps for fiscal year 2017, which is why CEF continues to strongly urge Congress to eliminate the austerity-level discretionary caps. However, education programs and other federal services need the certainty of knowing their funding level as they plan for and meet national needs. A long-term continuing resolution would deny students, schools and colleges the opportunity to benefit from any targeted funding increases.

Education funding, though only 2 percent of the federal budget, has been a target of deep cuts since January 2011. On the discretionary side of the budget, funding for programs exclusive of Pell grants for fiscal year 2016 is $1.3 billion below the level provided for fiscal year 2010. Congress has already eliminated 50 education programs during that period, focusing the remaining funding on programs of high need.

Educational attainment is strongly tied to both individual success and the nation’s economic strength. We urge Congress to continue working to advance the resources necessary to implement the best possible opportunities for students, their families, and our nation, and to finalize appropriations for fiscal year 2017 as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

Makese Motley, President
Sheryl Cohen, Executive Director

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House FY 17 Labor HSS Response

July 12, 2016

Dear Chairman Cole and Ranking Member DeLauro:

On behalf of the Committee for Education Funding (CEF), a coalition of 116 national education associations and institutions spanning early learning to postgraduate education, we are writing to voice our concerns regarding the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill that was passed out of the Subcommittee on July 7th. We are keenly aware of the difficult budget limitations the Subcommittee endeavored to balance, and commend your leadership in moving the appropriations process forward. CEF continues to emphasize the importance of eliminating the discretionary funding caps, as robust investment in education is essential to our nation’s economic viability.

We recognize that some programs received modest increases, and we are encouraged by the level of funding allocated for ESSA’s new Title IV block grant but we also acknowledge the limited additional investments to IDEA grants, Impact Aid, Indian Education, TRIO, and GEAR UP. We strongly believe that these nominal investments are insufficient to fund the full array of programs necessary to help students attain their full potential. Furthermore, while we are pleased the Committee retained the funding from the now eliminated School Improvement Grants (SIG) program and moves it through the Title I formula, we remain concerned that such an allocation still translates into a $200 million shortfall at the local district level.

CEF is deeply worried about the $1.3 billion that was taken from the Pell Grant reserve fund and the precedent that it sets, along with the cut to the Pell program’s annual appropriation. We were further disappointed by the lack of restoration of year-round Pell Grants, which was included in the Senate Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill earlier this year.

Finally, funding for numerous programs in this bill was reduced, frozen, or eliminated altogether. It was mentioned at the markup that there were “more than two dozen education programs that saw their funding reduced or completely eliminated in this bill.” This includes both the Magnet Schools Assistance program and the Education Innovation and Research program that have both been zeroed out, despite receiving tens of millions of dollars in FY 2016. The extensive negative impact of these budget decisions is avoidable by lifting the caps that are causing pressing funding constraints.

We strongly urge Congress to eliminate the discretionary caps in order to fund our nation’s education programs at adequate levels. Educational attainment is strongly tied to individual success and the growth, vitality, and innovation of our nation’s economic strength. Congress must work toward advancing the resources necessary to provide the best possible opportunities for students, their families, and our country.

Sincerely,

Makese Motley, President
Sheryl Cohen, Executive Director

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Senate FY 2017 Labor HHS Response

June 8, 2016

Dear Chairman Blunt and Ranking Member Murray:

On behalf of the Committee for Education Funding (CEF), a coalition of 116 national education associations and institutions spanning early learning to postgraduate education, we write to express our encouragement by the effort that produced the first bi-partisan Labor-HHS budget to come out of the subcommittee in seven years. We are keenly aware of the difficult budget limitations and priorities you both endeavored to balance, and commend your leadership in moving the budget process forward.

While CEF appreciates that some currently authorized programs received modest increases, we are deeply concerned over the $1.2 billion that was taken from the Pell Grant reserve fund and the precedent that it sets. We continue to emphasize the importance of eliminating the discretionary funding caps, as adequate investment in education is essential to our nation’s economic viability. While we acknowledge limited additional investments in Title I Grants to Local Education Agencies, IDEA grants, Impact Aid, and Charter School funding, we are concerned such nominal investments will not be enough as all are critical components in helping students attain their full education potential.

Additionally, while the proposed Title I level is $50 million above the combined FY 2016 level for Title I and School Improvement Grants (SIG), it still represents a cut at the local level. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) absorbed SIG into Title I and increased the school improvement set-aside from 4% to 7%. Thus, even with the additional $50 million provided by your committee, $150 million will be cut from school district allocations, resulting in many school districts receiving a smaller initial Title I allocation than they did in FY 2016.

We would also like to express our concern with the $300 million appropriation for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants (SSAEG) under Title IV, Part A of ESSA, which is a funding level well below the $1.65 billion authorization level established in ESSA. This appropriation level only reflects funding for the programs that were funded in FY16 and consolidated into the bill, even though the activities under the new block grant are far broader than those that were funded––including the effective use of technology, safe and healthy school programs, and well-rounded education programs. At this funding level, many schools will be unable to make meaningful investments in the programs that provide children with a safe and enriched learning environment, critical to their success and achievement.

CEF supports the restoration of year-round Pell grants, as well as the funding necessary to increase the maximum Pell grant from $5,815 for the 2016-2017 school year to an estimated $5,935 for the 2017-2018 school year. Despite this increased investment, however, the bill underfunds several higher education programs that are equally as important to the postsecondary success of America’s students. In particular, we wish to highlight the TRIO and GEAR UP programs, which provide supportive services to ensure access and success for low-income, first-generation college students; campus-based aid programs, like Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants and Federal Work-Study, which provide additional funds to help students and families bear the cost of college; and funding to support Minority-Serving Institutions, which help shore up the infrastructure and operations of institutions dedicated to educating students of color.

We continue to urge Congress to eliminate the discretionary caps in order to fund our nation’s education programs at an adequate level. Educational attainment is strongly tied to both individual success and the growth, vitality, and innovation of our nation’s economic strength. We urge Congress to continue to work toward advancing the resources necessary to implement the best possible opportunities for students, their families, and our nation.

Sincerely,

Makese Motley, President
Sheryl Cohen, Executive Director

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Letter in strong opposition to the Ficscal Year (FY) 2017 Budget Resolution proposed by Chairman Price

March 15, 2016

Dear Budget Committee Member:

The Committee for Education Funding (CEF), a coalition of 116 national education associations and institutions spanning early learning to postgraduate education, writes to express our strong opposition to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Budget Resolution proposed by Chairman Price.

While the proposed Budget maintains the FY 2017 cap for nondefense discretionary (NDD) spending, it proposes to slash funding for education and other critical NDD programs by $877 billion, or 18.6 percent, between FY 2018 and FY 2026.

In FY 2018 alone, it cuts NDD programs by $44 billion (-8.5 percent) below the sequester cap. Compared to the current Fiscal Year, it cuts NDD by $55 billion (-10.4 percent), when the $8 billion provided for NDD through the Overseas Contingency Operations fund is factored in.

The materials released on the Chairman’s proposed budget do not provide any details on funding for discretionary-funded education programs. However, if the 10.4 percent cut to NDD below current levels was applied equally to all programs, funding for critical Department of Education programs would be cut by $7.1 billion with Head Start in the Department of Health and Human Services cut by $953 million. Such cuts would devastate programs serving students from preschool to postgraduate education, as well as in related areas of workforce training, libraries and museums. In addition, the budget proposes to freeze the maximum Pell grant award for at least the next ten years.

Making matters worse, the Budget includes $202 billion in mandatory cuts over ten years in Function 500 (Education, Employment, Training, and Social Services). While the materials do not specify what those cuts are, we are deeply concerned they likely will result in additional reductions to mandatory-funded student financial aid programs.

At a time when increased educational attainment is strongly tied to earnings, such cuts would be harmful not only to students and their families, schools, colleges, and States, but also to our nation’s economy.

We again strongly urge you to reject this Budget, which reverses recent bipartisan progress in restoring past budget cuts, and would move our nation backwards in efforts to improve school readiness, close achievement gaps, fulfill modern workforce needs, and increase high school graduation, college attendance, and college completion.

Sincerely,

Makese Motley, President
Joel Packer, Executive Director

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Campaign to Invest in American’s Workforce

February 22, 2016

The more than 660 undersigned organizations—representing the full range of stakeholders supporting the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education and related agencies—urge you to allocate as high a funding level as possible to these programs and services in the fiscal year (FY) 2017 302(b) subcommittee allocations. The activities administered by these departments and agencies serve a broad range of constituencies and needs, but they all share a common, fundamental goal of strengthening this nation by improving Americans’ lives.

Despite their profound impact on health and well-being, child development, educational and skills attainment, and productivity, programs and services of the “Labor-HHS” spending bill continue to be short-changed in the annual appropriations process. For example, with the much-needed sequestration relief provided through the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 provided nondefense discretionary programs with a 6.9 percent increase overall, but programs in the Labor-HHS bill only received a 3.3 percent increase over 2015 levels. As a result, funding for Americans’ health, education, workforce, and social services programs—representing more than half of all nondefense discretionary spending—rose less than half as much as the nondefense average. At the same time, the Labor-HHS allocation remains about 10 percent below FY 2010 levels, adjusted for inflation.

Continuing to underfund these programs and agencies is irresponsible and unsustainable. The effects of short changing the Labor-HHS allocation are:

  • Slowing scientific discovery in basic, biomedical, and health services research that prevents disease, improves health, and curbs medical costs;
  • Eroding the public health infrastructure and workforce, limiting our ability to respond to public health crises and monitor health trends for new and emerging threats;
  • Hindering efforts to close troubling achievement gaps, raise overall student achievement, and increase high school graduation, college access and completion rates;
  • Leaving far too many low-income children without access to high quality preschool and other early learning opportunities;
  • Hindering efforts of our local employers to fill the approximately five million jobs in the U.S. because too many workers lack the necessary postsecondary education and credentials to fill these positions;
  • Preventing almost one million citizens from accessing the critical workforce and job training services that Congress overwhelmingly authorized last year; and
  • Ignoring the needs of individuals who find themselves without a high school credential and who need a pathway back to education, employment and active citizenship.

Without an increase in the Labor-HHS 302(b) allocation, it will be virtually impossible to meaningfully increase investments in important initiatives—such as expanding medical research at the National Institutes of Health, implementing the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act, continuing to improve college affordability and completion, or achieving the goals contained in the bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA)—without deep cuts in other equally important initiatives.

We urge lawmakers to commit to improving the lives of Americans by increasing the Labor-HHS appropriations allocation in FY 2017. If you have questions about this letter, please contact:

Emily Holubowich, Coalition for Health Funding (202-484-1100 or eholubowich@dc-crd.com);
Joel Packer, Committee for Education Funding (202-383-0083 or JPacker@cef.org); or
Bridget Brown, Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce (202-589-1790 or bridget@nawdp.org).

Sincerely,

CEF Members

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CEF Statement on FY 2017 Budget

For Immediate Distribution
February 12, 2016

The Committee for Education Funding Pleased the President’s Budget Invests in Education Despite Constrained Fiscal Environment
Disappointed in Proposed Freeze for Many Key Programs

WASHINGTON – The Committee for Education Funding (CEF), a coalition of 124 national education associations and institutions from preschool to postgraduate education, is pleased that President Obama’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget continues to invest in education, despite the very constrained fiscal environment, due to the FY 2017 freeze for nondefense discretionary programs.

The Budget increases funding for the Department of Education by $1.3 billion. In addition, early learning programs in the Department of Health and Human Services, including Preschool Development grants, Head Start and the Child Care and Development Block Grant, would receive a combined increase of $734 million.

Makese Motley, President of CEF said, “We are deeply disappointed that the budget freezes funding for key foundational education programs including IDEA state grants, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Title II Supporting Effective Instruction, Impact Aid, Rural Education, Career and Technical Education State grants, Adult Education State grants, Federal Supplemental Educational opportunity grants, Federal Work Study, TRIO, GEAR UP, aid to HBCUs, HSIs, and other minority-serving institutions.”

CEF also pointed out that while Title I funding is proposed to increase by $450 million, in reality that is a freeze at the combined FY 2016 level for Title I and School Improvement Grants (SIG). The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) absorbed SIG into Title I and increased the school improvement set-aside from 4% to 7%. Thus, $200 million will be cut from school district allocations, resulting in many school districts receiving a smaller initial Title I allocation than they did in FY 2016.

CEF also noted that while the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants created in ESSA is funded above the combined FY 2016 appropriation level of programs that were consolidated into it, its proposed funding is less than one-third of its $1.65 billion authorized level that was established in that bipartisan bill, even though the activities under the new block grant are far broader than those funded under the programs that were absorbed into it.

CEF is pleased that some currently authorized programs received modest increases, including education for homeless children, Promise Neighborhoods, Education Innovation and Research, school leaders, magnet schools, IDEA preschool and infants/families, and research and statistics. In addition, the Budget proposes $139 billion in new mandatory funding over ten years for programs such as Preschool for All, Computer Science for All, and America’s College Promise.

At the higher education level, CEF supports the proposed expanded eligibility for Pell grants through the proposed Pell for Accelerated Completion, the Pell bonus, and other improvements.

CEF is strongly opposed to the proposed cuts to 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Impact Aid payments for federal property, International education, Library Services State grants, and the elimination of Teacher Quality Partnerships.

“We are fully supportive of the president’s plan to finally eliminate the harmful sequester caps and cuts in Fiscal Year 2018 and beyond, that make it extremely difficult to provide needed investments in education and related programs,” CEF Executive Director Joel Packer noted.

“CEF looks forward to working with Congress on a bipartisan basis to ensure that key education programs receive the increases desperately needed to help ensure that all students come to school ready to learn, close achievement gaps, improve overall student achievement, and increase high school graduation, college access, and college completion rates,” said Motley. “When our students succeed our nation succeeds.”

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