EdAction in Congress

EdAction in Congress for December 22, 2019

Educators Score Big End-of-Year Wins

NEA’S advocacy continues to make a difference for students and educators across the nation. And your activism and outreach to Members has been an integral part of that process.  Last week’s legislative achievements are proof.

Below are various funding highlights, but one of our biggest achievements is the full repeal of the 40 percent excise tax on “high cost” employer-sponsored health plans scheduled to take effect in 2022; the effective date had already been postponed twice.  Once in effect, insurance companies would pay the tax, but the burden would be borne by the 180 million Americans with employer-sponsored health coverage—including many educators—in the form of benefit reductions, higher deductibles, or both.

Funding highlights:

  • FY 2020 Funding Bill:
    • $450-million increase for Title I grants
    • $410-million increase for IDEA
    • Increase to $25 million funding for full-service community schools, 43 percent higher than last year’s funding level
    • $550-million increase for Head Start
    • Provides $25 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health for research on gun violence as a public health issue—the first time since 1996 that Congress has funded such research
    • Provides $7.6 billion to the Census Bureau to ensure all people are counted in the 2020 Census
    • Extends for two years the Secure Rural Schools Act, which expired at the end of 2018
    • Raises by 3.1 percent pay for educators on military bases and other civilian federal employees
    • Rejects the Trump/DeVos efforts to cut education funding by $7.4 billion and rejects their plan to expand federal funding for private-school vouchers
  • National Defense Authorization Act: Reverses a provision in the tax law of 2017 that treated as taxable income the moving expenses of federal civilian employees working overseas and provides 12 weeks of paid leave after birthing, adopting, or fostering a child

These achievements underscore the importance of our engagement in the issues that matter to communities across the nation.

House votes to quadruple educator tax deduction and lift cap that cut school funding

House members passed the Restoring Tax Fairness for States and Localities Act (H.R. 5377), lifting the $10,000 cap on the state and local tax (SALT) deduction for two years. The cap threatens states’ and local communities’ ability to adequately fund public education and other essential public services, robbing students of the opportunities they deserve for a well-rounded education. The legislation also quadrupled the annual educator tax deduction from $250 to $1000, acknowledging the tremendous sacrifice educators make when they spend their own money on classroom supplies for students in need. According to a U.S. Department of Education survey, approximately 94 percent of educators spent an average of $500 on school supplies in 2014-2015; nearly 1 out of 10 spent $1,000, and many NEA members make even larger expenditures for their students.

 

Shout-out to NEA’s cyber-lobbyist superstars

Kudos to an outstanding group of NEA superstars: the cyber-lobbyists listed below who are relentless in reaching out to their members of Congress. In all, NEA members made nearly 900,000 contacts to Congress about legislation affecting students, public education, workers’ rights, and other important issues, and these top 50 led the way. Thank you for making a difference in 2019—and let’s keep our activism going in 2020!

NEA’s top 50 cyber-lobbyists →

 

This Week’s Cheers and Jeers

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García for being among The Hill’s top grassroots lobbyists in 2019.

 

Sens. Todd Young (R-IN) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) for introducing the Family Stability and Opportunity Vouchers Act of 2019 to help end homelessness and assist low-income families in finding housing.

Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) for introducing a bipartisan resolution to ensure the fairness and accuracy of the 2020 Census. More than 40 Senators joined them as cosponsors.

Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) for getting language included in the National Defense Authorization Act to reimburse (retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018) educators on military bases, who are members of the Federal Education Association.

Rep. Steve Horsford (D-NV) for leading efforts to get the educator tax deduction included in the Restoring Tax Fairness for States and Localities Act; and Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD) for introducing the original bill, the Educators Expense Deduction Modernization Act (H.R. 878).

Sens. Gary Peters (D-MI) and Rick Scott (R-FL) for introducing the K-12 Cybersecurity Act of 2019, which would require the Department of Homeland Security to examine the cybersecurity risks schools face and create a set of recommendations and voluntary resources for schools.

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