Thursday, July 22, 2010

EduJobs Bill on Life Support?

Last week Obama administration officials reiterated the president's threat to veto a proposed $10 billion education jobs fund measure if the new aid for schools comes at the expense of existing reform programs. Approved by the House on July 1 and awaiting reconciliation with a Senate version, the supplemental appropriations bill would fund the $10 billion intended to stave off teacher layoffs by trimming $500 million and $200 million from the Race to the Top and Teacher Incentive Grant programs, respectively, as well as another $100 million from the public charter school program. Nonetheless, the officials, including U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and White House Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes, made clear that they hope to avoid a veto by working with senators to identify appropriate offsets to pay for the bill.

At Politics K-12, Alison Klein writes,
Back when it was looking like Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, was going to trim unspent funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to pay for edujobs, I thought it was pretty likely he'd take money out of the $650 million Investing in Innovation or 'i3' Fund. Instead, he ended up targeting the $4.35 billion Race to the Top Fund.

Klien's snooping suggests the reason for avoiding i3 may well be "that many folks in the House of Representatives were asked by non-profit organizations in their districts to write letters of support for i3 applications." As Michele McNeil reported, there are 1,698 applications for the fund, many of whom sought their congressperson's support...creating a sort of built-in public relations and lobbying campaign.

Klein writes,

You think getting the edujobs bill through the U.S. House of Representatives was hard, what with the whole Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., versus the Whithe House thing, and the veto threat, and the Polis letter?

Well, that was a cake-walk compared to what is likely to happen in the Senate. Over at This Week in Education, Alexander Russo has a headline saying that the bill is "dead."

Is the bill dead? Alison doesn't think so - quite yet - but finds it necessary to keep taking the bill's pulse.

Supporters told the Ed Week reporter that EduJobs may be attached to a Small Business Administration bill.
As for that $800 million package of cuts to Race to the Top, charters, and the teacher Incentive Fund, no official word yet, but for now it appears unlikely, folks say, that those offsets will be part of the final package. (Of course, that would mean the Senate would have to find another $800 million in cuts...which could be messy.)
Klein thinks that those programs will most likely be spared, given this letter and also the veto threat.

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