By Amanda Litvinov
The budget blueprint released by the White House yesterday turned out to be a mixed bag for those who care about students, schools and working families.
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While the Administration’s budget pushes to increase education funding, expand access to early childhood education and reverse the damaging across-the-board sequester cuts just beginning to hit schools, there are proposed cuts to the social safety net that many educators say just aren’t right.
“I applaud the President’s efforts to fund our public schools. That said, I cannot support cuts to Social Security and Medicare,” said Bob Welsh, who works in transportation for Wisconsin’s Wauzeka-Steuben School District.
“My wife and I are low-income people who are just scraping by as it is, so any kind of cut to these programs could spell disaster for us,” continued Welsh, who is now in his seventies. “We campaigned very hard to elect and re-elect President Obama and we took to heart his promise that he would not touch or allow anyone else to interfere with Social Security and Medicare.”
The President’s proposal would cut Medicare and other health care programs by $400 billion. It would also lead to benefit cuts for Social Security recipients by abandoning the current cost-of-living payments that seniors rely on and using a new inflation formula known as chained C.P.I.
“Instead of cutting Social Security benefits to some of the most vulnerable members of society, many of whom are living on fixed incomes and can least afford cuts to their income, why aren’t we closing tax loopholes for large corporations and discontinuing tax breaks for the gas and oil industry?” asked retired Michigan teacher Karen Zyczynski.
She was also frustrated with the Administration’s continued reliance on competitive grants to determine federal education funding for the states.
“Why are we forcing states to vie for education grants, which creates haves and have nots, instead of raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans? Somehow we have our priorities mixed up.”
Still, the President’s budget does propose crucial new investments in early education totaling $75 billion that would allow all 4-year-olds to attend high-quality preschool programs.
“NEA members commend President Obama for his commitment to bring quality early childhood education to all children,” said math teacher and NEA President Dennis Van Roekel in a statement. “There are far too many kids without access to a full range of crucial programs like Head Start, pre–K, and full-day kindergarten that lead to long-term student success.”
NEA believes that a fair budget proposal should demand more of the wealthiest and corporations while staying true to our nation’s commitment to seniors, students and those most in need.
Educators helped push for the passage of the Senate budget proposed by Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-Washington)—which goes the furthest to restore education funding and fairness for working families—late last month.
You can help advocate for equitable education funding for all students. Get involved with the Kids Not Cuts campaign today!