Lobby Report — December 2010

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Lobby Report – December 2010

NEA Government Relations staff briefed directors on our victories including:  key election results, the lame-duck session, Education Jobs Bill, Pension Protection Act, Health Care Act, Student Aid, Child Nutrition Reauthorization.

Directors were also briefed on:  ESEA reauthorization, education funding, Social Security, Educator Tax Deduction, Private School Vouchers, DREAM Act, Classified School Employees of the Year Award, IDEA and Special Education.

Illinois NEA Directors met with these Members of Congress and/or their staff:

Rep. John Shimkus (R-19)

Rep. Jerry Costello (D-12)

Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-3)

Rep. Judy Biggert (R-13)

Rep. Bill Foster (D-14)

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-9)

Rep. Danny Davis (D-7)

Rep. Tim Johnson (R-15)

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL)

 

Directors discussed several issues with Members of Congress and their staff:

  1. Views on the Fiscal Commission report?
    1. Does the member favor cutting education funding?
    2. Does the member believe cuts to Social Security are necessary?
    3. What impact might changes to Social Security have on WEP/GPO?
  2. Member’s views on meeting the needs of the whole child?
    1. Does the member support targeting non-education department dollars (mental health, housing, etc.) toward schools in need of improvement?
  3. Reauthorization of ESEA (NCLB).
    1. Is the member open to recommendations from the NEA?
  4. Support for the DREAM Act?
  5. Does the member understand the impact of investing in education on the economy?
    1. Does the member understand the gap in IDEA funding?
    2. Does the member understand the gap in Title 1 funding?
  6. Discussed NEA’s Priority Schools program with the member.
  7. Discussed the importance of meeting the needs of the whole child including their   physical, social, emotional health and well-being.

Comments from Congressional Meetings:

Rep. John Shimkus (R-19) feels we must solve the entitlement problem.  In any fix of Social Security there is an opportunity to reform GPO/WEP. He is encouraged that new Speaker Boehner will use regular order to debate and pass any bills.  Federal discretionary spending, including education funds, is not significant in terms of the national debt and deficit.  But he expects less money for education at all levels.  Shimkus is looking to find savings by uncovering inefficiencies and duplication.  He sees a need to reform and control Medicaid spending. Shimkus supports elective classes including music and the arts.  He understands IEA-NEA’s decision not to recommend him in the last cycle but his door remains open.  He has worked with the incoming Republican chair of the House Education and Labor Committee and is willing to help in the reauthorization of ESEA. (Grimes)

Congressman Jerry Costello (D-12), represented by staffer Katie Stonewater, has been and remains very supportive of our positions.  He opposed changes to the social security retirement age and he supports targeted funds that help at-risk students. He understands the Whole Child concept.  His wife is a Community College President. (Miller, Grimes, Kreis)

Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-3), represented by staffer Dr. John Veysey, does not favor cuts to education funding, but sources for the funds must be found.  (Orr, Llorens, Griffin, Tudor)

Rep. Judy Biggert (R-13) does not favor cuts to education and feels there are good and bad ideas in the Fiscal Commission report.  She does not favor cuts to Social Security.  Congresswoman Biggert was assigned again to the House Education and Labor Cmte.  (Miller, Llorens, Griffin, Brown, Kreis)

Rep. Bill Foster (D-14) Since Cong. Foster was leaving the Congress the discussion focused on political questions and his impressions.  Foster believes that IEA and NEA need to be involved earlier in campaigns.  He applauded the help by IEA members in their grassroots efforts. (Orr, Miller, Tudor, Kreis)

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-9), represented by staffer Issac Brown, opposes cuts to Social Security and has presented her own alternative report to the Fiscal Commission.  She supported the DREAM Act in the House (it failed in the Senate).  She is concerned about teacher evaluations based on test scores.  She expects Rep. Paul Ryan’s ideas and the Fiscal Commission’s recommendations to be at the top of GOP proposals.  (Llorens, Grimes, Brown)

Rep. Danny Davis (D-7), represented by staffer Jill Hunter-Williams, opposes cuts to education and is supportive of the NEA Whole Child position.  (Llorens, Griffin)

Rep. Tim Johnson (R-15) supports education funding, but is waiting to see the priorities presented in the House.  He has three state universities (ISU, UIUC, EIU) in his district.  The House will first deal with the Health Care Act.  Johnson is in line with NEA on reauthorization of NCLB-ESEA.  Rural schools need more flexibility and the state needs to step up to support schools.  He supports the whole child concept.  He is concerned about teacher pay being tied to test scores.  (Miller, Griffin, Grimes, Kreis)

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) was very candid in expressing his unhappiness with IEA and NEA for their failure to recommend him in the campaign.  (IEA and NEA had recommended Kirk in previous Congressional races and the 2010 GOP Senatorial Primary).  He did not feel the switch of his vote from support to opposition on the Education Jobs Bill or his opposition of new taxes for education in Illinois, or his use of IEA RA debate comments by his opponent should have kept IEA from recommending him or staying neutral.  He said “IEA will have to earn his trust in the future.”  He refused to commit to the support of any bills supported by the Obama Administration or Democrats until the Bush tax cuts were passed.  (They were subsequently passed.)  Kirk does not want to “whack” education funding.  He volunteered that he supports some items in the Fiscal Commission report and he supports the NEA Whole Child position.  He said he might consider voting to support the repeal of Don’t Ask and Don’t Tell if senior military commanders felt it would not harm the war effort.  (He later did just that and voted for repeal.)  He opposes the DREAM act.  He is very concerned that states could declare bankruptcy but says the federal government will not bail them out.  He did ask IEA-NEA Director Kathi Griffin to co-chair his state education advisory committee and said he would be willing to discuss common issues in the future.  (Miller, Griffin, Grimes, Brown, Kreis)

 

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