A Message from AASA Executive Director Dan Domenech: AASA Helps Congress Develop Education Portion of the Economic Recovery Bill

Jan. 16, 2009

The House of Representatives is preparing to take up an economic recovery bill totaling $825 billion—including almost $200 billion in funding for education.

Before I delve into the details, I want to express a huge thank you to the AASA membership. So many of the provisions in this Economic Recovery Act were driven by data and analysis provided to congressional staff by AASA, based on input that so many of you have given to us over the past three months.

Thank you to everyone who sent information to their congressional delegations and completed one of our economic impact surveys. The national snapshot of information you provided made it possible for AASA staff to help congressional staff understand the importance of additional funding to America’s public schools.

If you haven’t done so yet, please send a letter to your congressional delegations detailing the ready-to-go new and backlogged construction and renovation projects in your district that could be addressed with these federal funds. Please send a copy of your letter to AASA (bhunter@aasa.org) so we can keep a running total of the dollar value of construction and renovation needs in America’s schools. In your letters, be certain to ask for legislative language that will prevent states from supplanting their state funds with the federal funds, ensure that funds are distributed through formulas and guarantee quick distribution of the funds to the local level.

In the House version of the Economic Recovery Bill, the main features regarding education include:

  • $13 billion for IDEA over two years;
  • $11 billion for Title I over two years;
  • $2 billion for School Improvement Grants;
  • $1 billion for Title II, Part D: Education Technology;
  • $66 million for the McKinney-Vento Homeless Act;
  • $250 million for states to develop longitudinal data systems;
  • $14 billion for a new School Modernization and Repair Program (to be distributed under the Title I formula);
  • $79 billion for a state stabilization fund, including $39 billion for states to back-fill funding cuts in their state K-12 and higher education funding formulas; $15 billion to be awarded to states based on their performance in three areas, including distribution of teachers, creation of longitudinal data systems and development of assessments for special education and ELL; and $25 billion for states to spend anywhere within their state budget, including education;
  • $89 billion for Federal Medicaid Assistant Payments,which will provide necessary relief and reduce competition for limited state dollars between Medicaid and education; and
  • $6 billion for broadband deployment.

We expect that the tax portion of the House relief—including major expansion of the Qualified Zone Academy Bonds and some assistance for school bonds—will move next week. The full Senate version of the Economic Recovery Act should move shortly after inauguration. We anticipate that the overall details will be very similar to the House proposal, with the exception of the details of the school modernization program.

Congressional leaders plan on completing the full legislative package prior to the mid-February recess. Come to the AASA National Conference on Education, Feb. 19-21 in San Francisco, for the latest information on the Economic Recovery Act and how to make sure funds get to your district.


Daniel A. Domenech
AASA Executive Director