On Thursday, the Georgia Association of Educators requested that the incoming Obama administration provide a bailout for the Georgia public school system. There isn’t much to this other than to say that this is obviously the tip of the iceberg. The UAW lead this charge with the $17billion being asked from Congress that was denied by the Senate (thank God) and then the President went ahead and ignored the will of the people and that of Congress. Here’s the brass tax of the request:
- Initiatives to help boost pre-k education, including a limited-time program of federal matching funds designed to help states maintain pre-k services, while creating incentives for them to maintain existing investment levels. We also suggest funding programs to ensure that job training and assistance programs provide displaced workers who want to become early educators¡ªparticularly those who already have college degrees¡ªaccess to the education they need to teach PK-3 students.
- Job creation through investments in infrastructure, including school construction. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) has pointed to more than $100 billion in needed repairs to U.S. public schools ¨C well-defined projects that can be quickly implemented. EPI estimates that $20 billion in such infrastructure repairs would create 280,000 jobs.
- An increase in the federal share of the costs of educating students with disabilities. The federal funding shortfall for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is straining state and school budgets and diverting resources from other critical programs. According to the National Governors Association, as a result of the subprime meltdown, the steady decline in housing values, and the rising costs of health care, state and local education budgets are under siege to cover basic operation costs, such as teacher salaries, transportation, and educational programming. Proposals to create a new glide path to attain the 40 percent federal commitment for special education cost about $19 billion over two years. This funding would go a long way to protecting elementary and secondary education from planned cuts over the next two years.
- Funding to close the Pell Grant shortfall. The credit crisis has made it more difficult for families to qualify for student loans and access higher education. At the same time, a large and growing number of people are going back to school as a way to increase their skills and earning potential. More than 786,000 applicants used the Pell Grant program than at the same point last year. As a result, the estimated Pell Grant shortfall is $3.5 billion in FY09, even after Congress provided $2.5 billion in the Continuing Resolution. At the current rate of increase, there will be 1.2 million more Pell Grant students. Congress could fund the Pell Grant shortfall and ensure adequate federal resources are available for all eligible students.
- Increases in food stamp benefits and other nutrition assistance for families struggling to survive in the face of rapidly rising food prices. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, food stamp caseloads have increased dramatically in recent months, rising by 2.6 million people or 9.6 percent between August 2007 and August 2008, the latest month for which data are available. In 25 states, at least one in every five children is receiving food stamps.
- An extension of unemployment assistance to those who have exhausted their benefits.
- A temporary increase in the federal Medicaid match (FMAP). According to the National Governors Association, 17 states have experienced FMAP declines over their federal FY 2008 FMAPs. Twelve of these states had also experienced FMAP declines in the previous fiscal year. Fourteen states are projected to have FMAP decreases in federal FY 2010. A temporary FMAP increase is a proven, effective way to provide relief to states and protect the health care of millions of Americans. In fact, Congress used this same approach to help states during the 2001-02 recession, when states facing high unemployment and weak tax revenues, combined with unexpected Medicaid growth, were forced to seek serious cutbacks in Medicaid costs.
Let’s start the new year off with a bang