Legislative Corps Newsletter from December 22

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Please enjoy this week's edition of the Legislative Corps newsletter. In this newsletter, we keep you updated on activities on the Hill and the Department. If you are a member and are not receiving the newsletter, email me at lfinnan@aasa.org to get added to the list. 

The Every Student Succeeds Act is Signed into Law

On December 10, President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This marks the end of the No Child Left Behind era. We have written extensively of the new law here and will continue to provide updates as more is released through regulations and as more is known in implementation. For more information, you can also check out an AASA presentation and a webinar on ESSA implementation.

Obama Signs Omnibus Spending Bill

Last week, President Obama signed a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill for Fiscal Year 2016, officially avoiding a shutdown this year. The bill includes slight increases to education – a $1.2 billion increase overall. It includes a $500 million increase to Title I and a $415 million increase to IDEA as well as increases in Head Start, charter school grants, NAEP, rural education and others. School Improvement Grant funding was cut and Investing in Innovation (i3) was flat-funded. The Committee on Education Funding put out a table of the spending levels, available here.   

While not funding-related, the bill also included a two year delay for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act Excise (“Cadillac”) Tax and an extension of the E-Rate Anti-Deficiency Act exemption through 2017.

Tax Extender Bill

Along with the Omnibus bill, Obama also signed a law extending several tax breaks. This law includes three education-related tax cuts. First is the allowance for teachers who spend their own money on supplies for the classroom to take a $250 deduction. Also made permanent is the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides up to $2,500 a year in tax credits for eligible college students. Finally, the tax package includes a two-year extension of the Qualified Zone Academy Bond program providing $400 million in QZAB bond allocations per year in 2015 and 2016 to the states and school districts for school renovation and repair.

AASA Reports

Economic Impact Survey: Education Cuts Have Yet to Heal: How the Economic Recession Continues to Impact Our Nation’s Schools

AASA Releases 5-Year Study on the American School Superintendent

Education Groups Applaud 1-Year Anniversary of FCC Vote to Modernize E-Rate  

Looking Ahead to 2016

While Congress got a lot done in the last month of 2015, they are promising an eventful 2016 as well. The Senate HELP Committee is expected to introduce a bipartisan proposal to reauthorize the Perkins CTE Act in January. AASA's Perkins reauthorization recommendations can be accessed here.   

The Senate Agriculture Committee is also expected to release a child nutrition reauthorization in January or early February.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will likely shift attention to the Lifeline Order (related to closing the homework gap, with activity expected in Feb/March) and the Education Broadband Services (EBS) program, though that likely falls low on the totem pole.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has emerged, once again, on the issue of regulations related to PCBs in light ballasts, which would impact municipal buildings, including schools. Want a refresher? Check out this blog post from March 2014.  

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has indicated an interest in reversing course on seat belts on school buses, pushing regulation through if districts don’t abide by their recommendations.  We are concerned about this for a number of reasons, which we will make known.

We look forward to keeping you updated on these and any other issues in the New Year. Happy holidays from the whole AASA advocacy team!


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