A deal to end sequestration may, finally, be on the horizon. Yesterday evening, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis) and Senate Budget Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash) announced a new two year deal to replace roughly $63 billion in sequester cuts over a two year time period. While far from being perfect, this compromise agreement should be viewed as a relative victory for education advocates and proponents of all non-defense discretionary funding, in light of how devastating the sequester has been and the current political environment.
Originally proposed as an option so toxic to both parties and the American economy that it would force a budget deal, sequestration went into effect January 1st 2013 after a compromise could not be reached in Congress. The result has been a set of cuts that removed funding for vital services across the United States. Education has been especially hard hit; the sequester was scheduled to cut $85 billion dollars from the education budget; tens of thousands of educators have already lost their positions as a result, and millions of students have found themselves in larger classes with fewer available services. (To see how these affected your state, go to: http://www.nea.org/home/52610.htm)
If approved, the proposal would provide for $45 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2014 funding divided evenly between defense and non-defense discretionary (or NDD) spending. NDD spending is an umbrella term that includes education, emergency relief, and veterans’ benefits, among other services. As such, the $22.5 billion that NDD would receive represents about 87% of the $25.8 billion NDD FY 13 sequester cut. This means the Appropriations Committees would have a pool of funds sufficient to provide FY 14 funding at levels that replace 87% of the FY 13 cut. To be exact, the NDD level would be $492 billion. In comparison, the FY 14 sequester level is currently allocated at $469 billion, the current Continuing Resolution level is $468 billion, and the FY 13 level was $473 billion. For FY 15, the deal would add $18 billion, once more, split evenly between defense and NDD, so the NDD cap would rise just a bit.
This would provide a budget for the next two years but must still be approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives. A joint letter from the lobbying coalition NDDUnited (which which NAfME is affiliated via the Committee for Education Funding) is being sent to members of Congress urging them to vote in favor.
Alexandra Eaton, Policy Analyst/Coordinator, December 11, 2013. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)