Among other state budget actions, the Joint Finance Committee voted along party-lines last week to transfer $22 million in federal e-rate funds (which are meant to support telecommunications services in schools and libraries–the “e” in e-rate stands for “education”) in each year of the budget to the Broadband Expansion Grant Program. The amount transferred is $19.8 million more than what the Governor’s budget had proposed.
While this may be viewed by some as good news for rural areas that currently lack adequate broadband (high-speed internet) connections, it could spell concerns for schools and libraries in the future. Continue reading Recent state and federal moves on e-rate funds raise caution flags
Partial Government Shutdown Continues as New Congress Begins
The 116th Congress convened last week and the House immediately turned attention to approving an appropriations bill designed to end the partial government shutdown, triggered by the White House’s budget request for $5 billion to expand the southern border wall. The House measure, approved Thursday evening (Jan. 3), did not include funding for wall. The House vote shifts the budget debate back to the Senate where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has stated that he will not bring any Fiscal Year 2019 legislation to the Senate floor that does not have the President’s support. Continue reading How will partial federal government shutdown affect K-12 schools, students?
A controversial proposal before Congress that would redirect federal Impact Aid funding away from public school districts and toward education savings accounts (ESAs) for students in military families is drawing criticism from the very families it is intended to benefit.
H.R. 5199, the Education Savings Accounts for Military Families Act, would re-purpose federal Impact Aid funding into a voucher-like program that would create ESAs military families could use to cover various education expenses – including private school tuition and private tutoring. Continue reading Federal plan to create “voucher-like” program for military-connected students draws criticism
The U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of a mammoth federal tax reform plan yesterday on what was essentially a party-line vote. The final tally on H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), was 227 to 205, with all but 13 Republicans voting in favor of the measure and all Democrats voting against it.
The massive overhaul package, which would slash taxes for businesses and corporations and makes numerous tax changes for individuals, would also increase the national debt by up to $1.5 trillion over 10 years.
Continue reading U.S. House Passes Tax Code Overhaul Bill
Tomorrow morning (Wednesday, May 17), the House Committee on Education and the Workforce has scheduled a committee markup session to review and vote on H.R. 2353, the “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act.” The Committee meeting can be viewed online via live webcast at 10:00 am (EDT)/9:00 am (CDT).
Continue reading House Committee Set to Advance Bipartisan Bill to Reauthorize Carl Perkins Career and Technical Education Program
The U.S. House of Representatives voted today (Thursday May 4) to approve a bill to repeal and replace the federal Affordable Care Act (a/k/a “Obamacare”) with new legislation known as the American Health Care Act (ACHA). The measure was passed on a 217-213 vote.
Among other things, the ACHA would make profound changes to the state-federal partnership program known as Medicaid or Medical Assistance, including reducing by $880 billion the amount of federal Medicaid dollars to states. These changes would significantly impact the ability of students with disabilities and students in poverty to receive critically necessary health services in public schools. The changes would require schools to compete for limited Medicaid funding, which would likely result in arbitrary caps on the amount of Medicaid reimbursements made to public schools.
Continue reading U.S. House Passes Obamacare Repeal Bill, Deep Cuts to Medicaid Will Impact Special Education
Federal Judge Amos Mazzant, of the Eastern District of Texas granted a preliminary injunction Nov. 22 that delays implementation of a regulation set to take effect next week, on Dec. 1, that would raise the salary threshold under which many workers qualify for overtime. The injunction will remain in place while the Court determines the U.S. Department of Labor’s authority to impose the rule and the rule’s validity.
Under the new standard most salaried workers earning up to $47,476 a year must receive time-and-a-half overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours during a week. That’s more than double the current salary threshold for overtime eligibility of $23,660. There are concerns that this 100% increase in the salary threshold and the accelerated implementation of the requirement exceeds the fiscal capacity of many school districts. Continue reading Court Blocks New Federal Overtime Rule