The House and Senate, in an extremely rare New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day session, passed an agreement to avert major elements of the set of issues referred to as the “fiscal cliff.” One major element of the deal is an extension of the expiring tax cuts, including several educational tax benefits that allow the deduction of interest on student loans used to attend college and other expenses.
While these tax-related provisions got most of the attention in the media, one of the most significant elements was a two-month delay in budget cuts (i.e., “sequestration”). As we have covered in past blog posts these would have instituted millions of dollars in cuts to federal education programs that serve children and students with learning disabilities.
Education Funding Cuts May Still Happen
While the delay in the sequestration cuts is an important victory, it also means Congress will have to act further—before March 1—or these devastating cuts to education programs will become reality.
To make matters more complicated, the timing for the upcoming sequestration debate now links it to debate on extending the federal debt limit and final spending on education and other programs for fiscal year 2013. The federal government has nearly reached its $16.4 trillion borrowing limit, and Congress must extend this debt limit in order for the federal government to continue to meet its financial obligations.
On 2013 funding for education and other programs, the federal government is currently operating under a temporary measure called a “continuing resolution” that funds the government through March 27, 2013. If Congress fails to pass full-year spending authority for programs, or to extend the continuing resolution past its current expiration, many federal agencies and programs will have to cease operation—what is typically referred to as a “government shutdown.”
NCLD will continue to monitor this closely in the coming weeks and its potential impact on students with learning disabilities (LD). All of these critical decisions coming together in March will make it even more important for Congress to hear your voices and concerns about the impact of budget cuts on the programs that serve students with LD. We thank those of you who recently helped us tell Congress how devastating these cuts would be to students with LD. And we hope you’ll make your voice heard again. Please take action today.