In mid-March, the House and Senate passed their respective budget resolutions for FY 2009. The House resolution (H. Con. Res. 312) provides an increase of $7.1 billion over President Bush’s budget request for education and workforce training, as well as social services. Included in this increase is a deficit-neutral tax credit for school construction and renovation bonds. The Senate’s resolution (S. Con. Res. 70) provides a more modest increase of $5.4 billion above the president’s request for these programs.

Although nonbinding, the congressional budget resolution serves as a blueprint for the later appropriations process, as well as a policy statement of congressional majority priorities.

Prior to adoption of the Senate resolution, an NASSP-supported amendment was offered by Sens. Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) that would create a deficit-neutral reserve fund targeting middle school completion, high school dropouts, and preparing high school students for postsecondary education and the workforce. NASSP is extremely pleased to see that the amendment was unanimously adopted.

Also passed in the Senate was an amendment introduced by Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) on behalf of Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) that would increase the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) by $300 million. TIF is a program under the No Child Left Behind Act that rewards teachers and principals for increases in student achievement.

Additionally, the House and Senate resolutions both contain provisions to prevent or delay the implementation or administration of regulations or other administrative actions that would affect the Medicaid, State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or other programs. Specifically, one of these regulations will eliminate approximately $700 million in Medicaid reimbursements to schools for transporting students with disabilities to and from school. Schools will also no longer be reimbursed for certain administrative activities performed by school employees or contractors, such as planning student immunizations and outreach efforts aimed at identifying students who are eligible for Medicaid.

A congressional moratorium on the implementation of this new rule expires June 30, 2008, meaning that if Congress does not pass legislation extending the moratorium, the rule will go into effect, even if policymakers alter funding levels for affected programs. NASSP and several other education and health care organizations strongly oppose the new Medicaid regulation, and are pleased that Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) recently introduced a bill (H.R. 5613) that would halt the implementation of this and several other Medicaid rules until April 1, 2009.

The House and Senate are now in recess until March 31 and are expected to meet in conference to work out the differences between their respective budget resolutions as soon as they return, with April 15 as the target date for completing work on the FY 2009 budget resolution. You can be sure that NASSP will continue working with policymakers and other education groups to advocate for increased education funding. Check back often for legislative developments and updates, and feel free to share your story with us about the importance of adequate funding for your school!

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