Children’s Champions Alert:
Federal Budget Agreement Reached – But Your Voice Still Needed
Last night, the House and Senate leaders of the federal budget conference released their agreement for a 2-year budget deal (current fiscal year 2014 and fiscal year 2015). Under the original sequestration agreement, the sequestration cuts would total $109 billion each year through 2021, equally divided between defense and non-defense programs. This agreement trims the sequestration by $45 billion in 2014 and $18 billion in 2015. While we are saddened that sequestration could not be eliminated, the agreement reduces the size of the ongoing cuts.
Your efforts made a difference! The agreement also includes many reserve funds (these are used for mandatory funded programs), including three for child care (funded by both mandatory and discretionary funds), home visiting, and prekindergarten. A reserve fund doesn’t mean that there is actual new money ready to be spent; instead, it’s a recommendation to provide more funds in these programs and to authorize new initiatives. This is a great first step, but there would need to be new revenue raised to fill those reserve funds.
What Happens Now?
First, the House and Senate have to vote in favor of the deal in the next few days. Reaching this deal is not the end of the work for us this calendar year. This deal sets the overall funding level for discretionary funding but it doesn’t set the program-by-program spending amounts. That work is done by the Appropriations Committees. We must make sure that Appropriations Committees put a significant investment in early childhood education programs.
Between now and the first week of January, the House and Senate appropriations staff will work on the program level spending decisions. The full Appropriations Committee makes what is known as “302(b) allocations” that give the overall spending amount to the subcommittees. The Labor/Health and Human Services/Education subcommittee determines the spending amounts each year for child care, Head Start, Early Head Start, special education, and K-12, among many others programs.
Your Action Needed: Email/Call Congress
We need you to email or call your Senators and Representatives today. Click here to email them using your zip code. To call, the Capitol Switchboard number is 202-224-3121.
Message: Please give the Labor/HHS/Education appropriations subcommittee the highest possible allocation so it can make expanded investments in child care, Head Start, Early Head Start and other early childhood education programs. Researchers, business and military leaders, and noted economists say that investments in high-quality early learning programs have returns that benefit everyone and are some of the best investments our nation can make.
In addition to your email, try to meet with your Senators and Representatives when they are home for the remainder of December. Let them know all the ways high-quality early childhood development and learning makes a difference for children, families, your community, and your state.