We have a budget! (Well, sort of …) Early Sunday morning, the Senate passed (62-30) a six-month Continuing Resolution for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013. The House passed it the week before, and President Obama has indicated he will sign it. This was the final measure the Senate and House will consider until after the election – both chambers are adjourned until mid-November.
Details: The FY2013 CR will fund the federal government through March 30, 2013 at a total annual level of $1.047 trillion, the amount Congress agreed to last summer in the Budget Control Act of 2011, legislation which also raised the debt ceiling. The bill maintains spending at fiscal year 2012 levels, plus a 0.612 percent increase across the board. This will bring total spending for Department of Education discretionary programs to about $68.5 billion.
Policy Provision Directed at Teachers: Here’s an issue of particular interest to CEC members -- the bill included a policy rider addressing whether teachers who are enrolled in, but have not yet graduated from alternative route to certification programs may be deemed “highly qualified.” CEC, joined with 90 other disability, civil rights, and education groups, in the Coalition for Teaching Quality, and fought the extension of this provision. We believe Congress needs to address the issue as part of ESEA reauthorization and give it the full and fair debate it deserves. (Read more about this issue here.) CEC is pleased, however, that Congress only extended this provision for one year, instead of two, and required the U.S. Department of Education to provide for more transparency with the data around it. Specifically, the Secretary of Education must report to Congress by December 31, 2013, identifying where and what students teachers who meet NCLB’s the highly qualified requirement are teaching. Having access to this information is important to understand the needs of the profession and our nation’s children and youth.
Congressional Failure or Business as Usual? Regardless of finding agreement to pass this interim measure, Congress still failed to complete it work. Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee expressed his disappointment in Congress but noted, “I have served in this Senate for 49 years and 9 months. During my tenure the Congress has only completed its work and enacted all of its spending bills without needing a continuing resolution on three occasions.”
Up next after the election? Sequestration. Stay tuned to the PI Blog over the next few months for more information about how these impending budget cuts will impact you.