Before a joint session of Congress, President Obama proposed another $450 billion to stimulate the nation’s economy, including $60 billion for education. Rep. George Miller (D-CA) asked House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) to immediately hold hearings on the education provisions in the bill.
The president called on the congressional debt-reduction supercommittee to find extra cuts in their $917 billion in mandated deficit reductions over the next decade to pay for his new proposal, which he wants to spend in the next year. That makes it a larger annual sum than the $800 billion from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was slated to pay out over two years.
The president’s promises that the proposal will not generate new deficit spending rest on “highly iffy propositions,” said an Associated Press factcheck.
“It will only be paid for if a committee he can’t control does his bidding, if Congress puts that into law and if leaders in the future—the ones who will feel the fiscal pinch of his proposals—don’t roll it back,” the AP reported.
The proposal, sent to Congress Sept. 12, includes $30 billion to stem teacher layoffs and increase school hiring, $25 billion for K-12 school construction, and $5 billion for community college renovations.
Since the recession began in 2008, Miller said, public schools have cut more than 290,000 jobs. That’s roughly the number of teaching jobs Obama says this plan will save over the next two years.
In 2010, the president signed a $10 million “edujobs” bill, which supporters said would stop districts from cutting 160,000 teaching jobs. Some schools and districts used it to give employees raises rather than hiring more. About 40 percent of that money has not been spent; many districts kept the funds in reserve for this school year and beyond.
The nation’s schools added a net 210,000 jobs in 2008 and 2009, says the most recent Census Bureau data available, from 2009. At the same time, public school enrollment declined by almost the same number.
Student enrollment increased a cumulative 0.7 percent between 2004 and 2009, while the K-12 teacher workforce increased 6.5 percent. Per-pupil spending increased 12.5 percent in that period after adjusting for inflation, and spending on education employee salaries and benefits increased 27.5 percent.