While Congress is currently engaged in debate over immigration policy and the 2013 farm bill, two other policy issues are waiting patiently in the wings for their chance in the spotlight. There is a possibility that the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and the House Education and the Workforce Committee will mark up their own versions of Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bills in June. At the same time, progress is slowly being made by the Appropriations Committee staff in both the House and the Senate on FY2014 spending bills. Now is a great time to weigh in on both of these issues:
Thank you for taking action on behalf of the 18 million children who would be engaged in afterschool programs this afternoon if a program were accessible to them.
Today the president released his budget request for the upcoming 2014 fiscal year, which begins this October. With regard to support for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative, the president requested $1.25 billion—reflecting an increase of $100 million from FY2012 levels (pre-sequester levels). As was the case in his budget request last year, the president proposes to radically change 21st CCLC to a competitive grant at the federal level as well as prioritizing 21st CCLC grant funding for new purposes including adding time to the traditional school day or year, and for teacher planning and professional development.
In a challenging budget environment in which many programs face consolidation or elimination, the proposed increase in 21st CCLC in the budget request demonstrates the importance and value of expanded learning opportunities. Unfortunately, in the budget documents and most notably in the budget justification, the president makes the preference for expanded learning time (ELT) clear by indicating that unless ESEA is reauthorized before FY2014 begins, the Administration will request authority to use the $100 million increase for competitive grants to support ELT models.
The Afterschool Alliance supports 21st CCLC funds being directed to high-quality afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs that focus on hands-on, engaged learning that complements and enhances but does not replicate the traditional school day. While not mentioned in the president’s budget, the Afterschool Alliance feels strongly that 21st CCLC funding should continue to support the partnerships between schools and community- and faith-based organizations that help children improve academically, socially and behaviorally while parents are at work. For more information on expanded learning, see our expanded learning resource page.
For the first time in more than four years, both the Senate and the House have passed budget resolutions. While budget resolutions in Congress don't have the force of law and largely serve as visionary documents or blueprints, they do determine the amount of money the appropriations committees will have to spend on discretionary budget items for the upcoming 2014 fiscal year that begins on October 1.
The budgets that passed are a study in contrasts. The House budget represents a significant cut to non-defense discretionary programs like education funding, while the Senate version has some cuts but also prioritizes some discretionary funding like child care and education, which is offset in part by new revenue. Crucial discretionary investments include things like afterschool and summer learning through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, child care assistance, special education services and help for low income students through Title I. From 2010 to 2012 discretionary investments for children have already been cut by $2 billion dollars, and they are expected to drop further in 2013.
The House budget extends harmful sequestration cuts that could cut investments to kids by more than $40 billion over 11 years. These cuts fall heavily on investments in education, early childhood and children’s housing. It also cuts non-defense discretionary spending by an additional $650 billion over 10 years by shifting all the scheduled cuts in defense spending onto non-defense areas. Applied proportionally, these additional cuts could cost kids another $72 billion. Finally, the House version cuts all non-defense discretionary investments by nearly $1 trillion.
The Senate budget resolution eliminates sequestration and restores all cuts currently in effect. This alone would restore more than $4 billion in investments for children and youth for Fiscal Year 2013 including restoring afterschool supports to the 56,000 children slated to lose those programs this fall. The Senate version further lowers non-defense discretionary spending caps by $150 billion. Applying this reduction proportionally, this would result in a $17 billion reduction in funding for children’s initiatives. However, the budget proposal emphasizes the importance of early education, child care, child nutrition, as well as other areas suggesting the intent to protect critical investments in children. During the budget debate on the Senate side, Sen. Boxer sent a strong signal on the importance of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative by authoring an amendment in support of this valuable afterschool and summer learning program. While the amendment was not voted upon due to procedural issues with the budget process, the Senate remains in strong support of afterschool programs, with Sens. Murray and Harkin expressing their support for the amendment as well.
The president is expected to release his budget on April 8.
Congress continues work this week on a spending bill for Fiscal Year (FY)2013 to replace the Continuing Resolution (CR) that expires March 27. Last week the House passed its version of the FY2013 spending bill, and the Senate took up their version of a final FY2013 spending bill this week. Both the House and the Senate bills leave the 5 percent across-the-board sequester cut in place. The House CR also includes its own 0.098 percent across-the-board cut on top of the sequester cut. A FY2013 spending bill must be agreed upon by the House and Senate and signed into law by the president before March 27 to prevent a government shut-down.
The Senate has developed a hybrid spending bill to fund the government through Sept. 30, the end of FY2013. This version includes full appropriations bills for more agencies than the House version. The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013—developed in a bipartisan manner by Appropriations Committee Chair Sen. Mikulski (D-MD) and Ranking Member Sen. Shelby (R-AL) includes separate divisions for appropriations to Agriculture; Commerce, Justice and Science; Defense; Homeland Security; and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. The Mikulski-Shelby bill provides about $1 trillion in budget authority, consistent with the Budget Control Act of 2011.
Labor, Health and Human Services as well as Education programs were not included in the Mikulski-Shelby bill and therefore would be funded under a regular CR, which would extend programs’ funding at FY2012 levels through the end of the current fiscal year. The spending bill does include a $50 million increase for the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF), significant because not many programs were slated for modest increases. The 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative is funded at $1.15 billion in FY2012 and (like most non-defense discretionary funding) will be subject to the 5 percent sequester cut plus the 0.098 percent cut from the House bill if that remains in the final version of the bill.
The Mikulski-Shelby bill is expected to be voted upon by the full Senate by the end of the week. The House and Senate then must reconcile their differing FY2013 spending bills and pass a final bill before March 27 when the current CR expires. Once the final FY2013 bill passes, check back for final spending levels for key afterschool and summer learning related funding streams.
|Making Afterschool an Election Issue||Policy and Action Center: Take Action|
|Congressional Caucuses||Policy & Action Center - Main|
|Afterschool in Your State||Race to the Top Fund|
|State Budget Process||Governors' Children's Cabinets|
|Success Stories on Afterschool and Economic Recovery||Afterschool in Rural Communities: The Investment in Afterschool Programs Act|
|Education Reform Opportunities in ARRA||State Policy - State Budget Process|
|State Policy||State Policy - Legislation|
|State Policy Trends||State Policy-Ballot Initiatives|
|Sample Letter from 21st CCLC or Other Programs||Sample Letter from a Parent|
|Ask the Candidates about Their Position on Afterschool||Sample Letter to the President|
|Sample Script for Calling the White House||Sample Script for Calling Congress|
|Tips on Writing Letters-to-the-Editor||Lights On Afterschool Gallery|
|Lights On Afterschool Gallery||Afterschool in Action: Innovative Afterschool Programs Supporting Middle School Youth (2013)|