The United States Congress returned to Capitol Hill this week with work ahead to finalize a funding bill for fiscal year 2016. The overall concern is averting another round of across-the-board budget cuts from sequestration that could begin at the start of the new fiscal year on October 1.
In the past, the “Murray-Ryan” deal provided two years of sequestration relief, temporarily masking sequestration’s true impact. This relief is expiring in fiscal year 2016 and appropriations bills now being written to the sequestered spending caps. There is bipartisan agreement that sequestration is bad policy and ultimately hurts our nation.
The House Appropriations Committee’s underlying bill for education programs (H.R. 3020) would raise the federal investment in special education grants under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by $500 million over fiscal year 2015 and would sustain funding for Title I grants for disadvantaged students.
The Senate Appropriations Committee’s bill (S. 1695) would also increase the IDEA investment by $125 million and would provide an additional $150 million to Title I grants. In other areas, School Improvement Grants (currently funded at roughly $505 million) would be eliminated under the House bill.
As negotiations in Congress begin to finalize an appropriations bill for FY2016, MSBA will remain engaged, advocating for sustained investments in education.
Senate Agriculture Committee marks up child nutrition reauthorization
With the current bill set to expire on September 30, a markup of a modernized child nutrition reauthorization (CNR) is scheduled for Thursday, September 17th in the Senate Agriculture Committee. If Congress does not meet the September deadline, authorization of school meals will continue in its current form, however legislation is needed to make any changes or improvements.
The Senate Agriculture Committee and the House Education & the Workforce Committee have been conducting hearings on the CNR. School districts from around the nation have been lobbying for resources and flexibility for local school districts in order to provide nutritious and appetizing meals for children without unintended financial and operational consequences for school districts.