New ‘Indivisible’ movement gains traction on Cape and Islands, by Article published April 1, 2017 in the Cape Cod Times.
Legislature: Federal (House & Senate)
Where is it now? Submitted
Stake Holders: Taxpayers, students, teachers, school administrators, national teacher and school associations., religious organizations, separation of church and state organizations.
Why Do We Care:
It reduces public education funding. The budget seeks to reduce the Education Department’s roughly $68B budget by $9B (13%) and eliminates more than 20 current programs including Title II (Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants) which helps states and school districts hire and provide professional development for teachers. The budget also gets rid of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which finances after-school and extended-learning programs. It also keeps funding for Pell Grants at current levels eliminating nearly $4B in surplus funding that could have helped college students cover the cost of summer courses. More.
It increases funding for school choice through vouchers for private and charter schools and “portability”. The budget proposes a $1.4B federal investment in school choice including about $250M which would go to private schools, $168M which would go to new charter (public) schools and the rest (approximately $1B) to make the federal Title I program regarding low-income students in higher poverty schools more “portable.”
While “school choice” is an attractive term there are certain cautions to be kept in mind:
- Private Schools are non-public schools which can be religious or secular in nature and are designed to support parental beliefs in how children should be educated. The clear majority of private schools are religious schools, some of which in addition to discriminating against other religions or the non-religious also teach faith-based pseudo-scientific (creationism) and revisionist (the founding fathers were Christians.) Funding private religious schools blurs the line between separation of church and state [see here].
- Charter Schools are non-neighborhood, independent public schools established by teachers, parents, community members, non-profit and for profit groups. The value of charter schools is often debated and some maintain that whatever the original emphasis for charter schools the movement is increasingly becoming an industry whereby decisions are made on the basis of financial services and corporate interests [see here].
- Title I “Portability” is basically unworkable. Currently, Title I dollars are targeted toward low-income students in higher poverty schools. Concentrating them this way provides the greatest assistance for these schools. Trump’s plan is to “voucherize” the money and have it follow the students themselves should they choose to attend a school outside their attendance area. In terms of school choice, it is “school choice light” with the added consequence of making Title I dollars less effective than they are today [see here]. Also, the budget encourages states and school districts to use the funds as part of a “student-based budgeting and open enrollment” plan that enables Federal, State, and Local funding to follow the student to the public school of his or her choice. Kids with in poverty, students in special education-who cost more to educate-would carry with them more money than other students. More.
How Does It Meet Our Stated Objective? Indivisible promotes inclusiveness, tolerance and fairness. Neighborhood public schools based on attendance areas with democratically elected school board members also tend to support these values. The Trump education budget tends to divide students, families and neighborhoods into special interest groups especially in the case of faith-based special interest groups which tend to exclude people of other faiths and introduce faith-based “alternative” facts into the American collective consciousness. Use of tax-payer money to fund educational special interest groups especially when they are not accountable to the taxpayer appears to be a form of “taxation without representation.”
Local Impact: Massachusetts teachers, students and schools will suffer. Last year under Title II, Boston schools alone received $5.7M enabling them to serve 56,000 students. Also, eliminating the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program means Massachusetts schools will lose $12M and the students who rely on these programs will face greater hardships. More.
Also, further funding for charter schools will decrease parent involvement and transparency. Currently, sixty percent of the charter schools in Massachusetts lack even a single parent on their boards of trustees. Public records requests made to 10 publicly funded Boston charter schools have been thwarted by demands for fees totaling $91,440 from seven of the schools. More .
Massachusetts residents are predominantly Roman Catholic (48%) and there are 205 Roman Catholic private schools in the state which serve 62,336 students. While the voucher increase might be a windfall for them, studies have shown that reliance on vouchers can lead to a decrease in church donations and spending on non-educational church expenditures. More.
Possible Action: Write or call Senators Warren and Markey and Congressman Keating. Contact House Budget Chair, Diane Black, R-TN. Contact Bernie Sanders, Angus King, Tim Kane and Sheldon Whitehouse on the Senate bud get Committee. Contact the Massachusetts Teachers Association. Contact the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance and Massachusetts Teachers Association. Contact the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Attach written summary and any other supporting documents – see links included in text.
Resources: K-12 NN News Network, Education Week, Freedom from Religion Foundation, Massachusetts Last: Impacts of the Trump Budget on the Commonwealth, Massachusetts Teachers Association, Public School Review, U.S. News and World Report.
Bill#: H.Res. 186
Bill Name: Resolution of Inquiry
Directs the Department of the Treasury to provide to the House of Representatives the full tax returns of President Donald J. Trump for tax years 2006-2015, financial documentation, and any information in its possession that specifies President Trump’s:
- debts held by foreign governments and foreign companies;
- investments in foreign countries and foreign enterprises; and
- use of any tax shelters, corporate structures, tax avoidance maneuvers, abatements, or other loopholes to reduce or eliminate tax liability.
House sponsor: Rep. Pascrell, Bill, Jr. [D-NJ-9] (Introduced 03/09/2017)
Where is it now? House Ways and Means Committee
On Tuesday, March 28, 2017 at 4 p.m., the House Ways and Means Committee will hold a markup.
Since the vote is taking place in the House, local efforts should include calling & writing Congressman Keating, and asking him to cosponsor this resolution: here’s the script.
We also suggest calling and/or writing the Chairs of the Committee to which the bill has been referred:
Ways & Means:
Chair: Kevin Brady (R-TX)
1011 Longworth House Office Bldg.
Washington DC 201515 (202) 225-4901
(His Chief of Staff is David Davis.)
Got some time today? Just because there was no vote doesn’t mean our MoC (Rep. Keating) doesn’t need constituent feedback. Visit your MoC’s local office and let him know how you feel about his stance on TrumpCare. And let him know that you’re going to keep watching out for any new attacks on the ACA down the road. While Trump and Ryan have retreated “for the foreseeable future” (to quote Ryan again), this fight may not be over—stay tuned for more resources you can use to keep defending the ACA over the next congressional recess and beyond.
On Wednesday, April 5th, the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition is holding its annual Immigrants’ Day at the State House in Boston. The formal events begins at 10 with a rally in the Hall of Flags. Before and after that constituents will be going to visit their own legislators to tell them how important it is to support the Safe Communities Act . The bill is now before the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. (S. 1305 and H. 3269).
Cape & Islands Stronger Together and the Barnstable Democratic Town Committee have chartered a bus so it will be easy for many of us to participate. The bus leaves the Barnstable Park & Ride at 7:15 am, it leaves the Sagamore Park & Ride at 7:40 am.
To check out the Boston event and information about the Safe Communities Act use this link. www.miracoalition.org
A donation of $15 is suggested as you board the bus (for those who are able). No one will be turned away if we have space!
If you have any questions please call or email Susan Truitt, Cape & Islands Stronger Together and Barnstable Democratic Town Committee, 774-327-7277 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill #1275 Federal 115th Congress
Sponsors: Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX)
Passed by: The Budget Committee, Energy & Commerce Committee, and Ways & Means Committee
Summary: See Attached page
Where is it now? Scheduled to be on the House floor by March 24, 2017.
Stake Holders: All Americans.
Why do we care?
- Instead of subsidizing enrollees based on income, Trumpcare would provide refundable tax credits based primarily on age. (The G.O.P. plan would also account for no variation in costs between regional markets, which could disproportionately hurt rural consumers.)Vanity Fair 3/7/2017
- The G.O.P. plan offers tax credits ranging from $2,000, for individuals under the age of 30, up to $4,000 for people over 60. For individuals making more that $75,000 per year—and married couples who file jointly and make more than $150,000 per year—the tax credit would decrease by $100 for every $1,000 increase in salary.Vanity Fair 3/7/2017
- Because of differences in the tax-credit structure under the AHCA, older and poorer people would receive less assistance to gain access to care, according to analysis done by nonpartisan groups. Additionally, not every state would benefit in the same way. The Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-policy think tank, broke down the AHCA’s tax-credit structure compared with the Affordable Care Act’s. The key difference is that while the ACA adjusts for income level as well as the cost of living based on place of residence, the AHCA would give a flat credit based on age ranging from $2,000 annually for those under 30 to $4,000 a year for people over age 60. Based on Kaiser’s analysis, this would shift the cost of healthcare mostly for seniors and poorer Americans, who would see their insurance subsidies fall dramatically under the AHCA. Business insider. 3/14/2017
- Additionally, unlike the ACA, the AHCA does not adjust its tax credits based on the cost of living for the location where the beneficiary lives. Thus, rural areas where healthcare providers are limited and usually more expensive would see a bigger slash to benefits.
Based on an analysis by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities of how states using the federal Healthcare.gov exchange could be affected by the new law, the biggest loser would be Alaska, with a tax-credit decline of $10,243 on average for individual insurance enrollees. Also, the individual enrollee’s tax credit in North Carolina, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Alabama, Nebraska, and Wyoming would decrease by more than $4,000 on average. Business Insider
- Estimates from congressional budget analysts and the White House’s Office of Management and Budget kept showing that the credits would be both too small to provide enough help to lower-income people and too expensive overall for a GOP determined to slash federal spending that the ACA has required. Washington Post 3/6/17
How does it meet our stated objective? The tax credit proposal seeks to lower federal spending on health care by capping individual subsidies through fixed-dollar insurance credits. This is a big change in federal health care and will especially affect poorer and older Americans. Speaker Paul Ryan and Republican congress is rushing this bill through to prevent any meaningful discussion on its many moving parts.
Local Impact: Cape Cod has an older population needing more healthcare but living on Social Security and pensions. Cape Cod is a rural area with a large seasonal economy and lower paying service level jobs making it difficult to pay for health insurance.