By Amanda Litvinov
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It’s the cusp of spring in Washington, D.C.—the time of year we look for blossoms on the cherry trees and watch the annual showdown in Congress over the federal budget.
The 2017 budget released by the Congressional Progressive Caucus released Tuesday was like a breath of spring air clearing the stale halls of Congress with its call to end the austerity measures that have throttled students and working families for the better part of the last decade.
“The People’s Budget: A Raise for America” shows that there is a way to make critical investments in education, infrastructure, and green industry while raising incomes, which for most Americans have been stagnant since the early 1970s.
“The CPC budget is truly the people’s budget because it helps lift up students and their families, regardless of their zip code,” said science teacher and NEA Vice President Becky Pringle at the budget unveiling. “We applaud this budget that prioritizes the education of all our students.”
The CPC budget would aggressively address the opportunity gap plaguing our country, beginning with quality universal pre-K and early Head Start. It fully funds the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Title I, the nation’s two flagship programs aimed at closing opportunity gaps. It also helps bring college within reach by introducing reforms to help students graduate debt-free.
“Education in our nation is an investment not just a cost,” said Pringle. “We are building the next great generation of leaders and the People’s Budget gives our students the attention and future they all deserve.”
All of these investments are paid for through common-sense tax code reforms that start with asking the wealthiest individuals and corporations to pay their fair share in taxes.
By contrast, the FY17 Budget Resolution marked up in the House Budget Committee yesterday would perpetuate the failed austerity approach. It calls for deep cuts–$887 billion over the next decade–to non-defense discretionary programs including education, which are already at historic lows.
The House proposal cuts $6.5 trillion in investments over the next decade, sacrificing the well-being of the middle class and our most vulnerable populations without adding a penny more in revenue from corporations or the wealthy.
It runs counter to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which showed that members of Congress recognized the importance of ending harmful sequester level funding by raising budget caps to leave room for key investments in formula-funded programs like Title I and IDEA, which help our students most in need.
With Congress now beginning work on funding bills, it is crucial that lawmakers hear from public education advocates demanding a budget that supports all students, regardless of zip code, with the support, tools, and resources they need to succeed.
Help us urge Congress to give the Labor-HHS-Education bill a bigger share of the budget in FY2017.