Thursday, August 5, 2010

Nothing is Ever Dead

The old saying that nothing in life is certain except death and taxes does not apply to the US Congress, where nothing is ever really dead and many powerful interests are not taxed. So, while it is not certain, it does appear that there will be federal money to save education jobs around the country, including Delaware.

This blog has reported before on the importance of giving states relief in two areas: Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) and education. Any state budget will have two expenditure areas that are very large, education and health care. Using a loose lay person's explanation, think of education funding being one third of your state's budget, health care being another third of the state's budget, and all the other services and needs competing over the remaining third, and you have a snapshot of the state fiscal picture.

FMAP is Medicaid funding from the federal government. Many times the federal government reimburses states at a two to one or even three to one rate for their spending on the health care of their citizens. Thus, FMAP is critical to not only the health of a state's citizens, but also to the health of the state's budget. Moreover, Medicaid patients make up an important market share of the health care industry.

The combined impact of the severe recession and the rapid push for reform have made federal education funding much more important than in the past. The recession has swelled the ranks of public school enrollment as families previously using private schools can no longer afford them. At the same time, recession means much less tax revenue to pay educators, and thus layoffs. Meanwhile, the education reform juggernaut continues with more demands, but with grant moneys so tightly earmarked that they do not save educator jobs.

The entire summer National Education Association (NEA) and all her affiliates such as DSEA have worked to pass legislation for federal money to save education jobs. There have been many false starts, many failed efforts, but persistence appears to have paid off.

Under the leadership of Senator Harry Reid, the Senate has put together legislation to provide the critical funding for both FMAP and education jobs. A vote on cloture (to eliminate the possibility of filibuster) was held yesterday and passed 61 to 38. Both our Delaware senators took the good vote for cloture.

Our predictions are that the legislation will pass the Senate today. The House is already on recess. However, this legislation is so important to the education, health, and fiscal well being of citizens around the country, that Speaker Pelosi is calling the House back into session next week just to pass the bill.

We will keep you posted.

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