RECOMMENDATIONS FOR EDUCATION REAUTHORIZATION. NCSL and the National Governors Association released recommendations last week for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), better known as No Child Left Behind. The groups’ detailed plan for the long-overdue reauthorization offers states more support and flexibility in several areas, from how they ensure that all students, regardless of disability, race, economic status or English proficiency, receive a high-quality education to how they align ESEA programs with state early childhood education, postsecondary education and work force development. State legislators are encouraged to urge their congressional delegation to reauthorize ESEA and provide states with additional flexibility. NCSL staff contacts: Lee Posey, Ben Schaefer
LET THE BUDGET DEBATES BEGIN! The president kicked off the FY 2016 budget season earlier this month with the release of his annual budget request. This is the first time since 2010 that ongoing budget negotiations from the previous year didn’t delay the submission. Although the president recommended several new policy initiatives, the proposal was very similar in many ways to past requests. It recommends taxing corporations’ foreign earnings to fund transportation projects, consolidating grant programs within the Department of Homeland Security, and modifying the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds. The proposal also averts sequestration through offsets in mandatory spending and revenue enhancements. In FY 2016, discretionary spending would be increased by $74 billion, split between defense and non-defense, above the current statutory caps, a seven percent bump over current spending levels. Other highlights in the administration’s budget proposal include: increasing the federal cigarette tax to fund preschool programs and extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for workers without children, and establishing a new “Clean Power State Incentive Fund” to encourage states to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. A detailed overview of the president’s budget and how it would affect states is available here. NCSL staff contact: Jeff Hurley
HOUSE LOOKS TO TAKE FLIGHT ON REAUTHORIZATION. NCSL urged the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to include certain airport infrastructure funding and financing provisions in legislation to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In a letter sent to the committee, NCSL recommended an increase in the federal cap on the Passenger Facility Charge user fee along with assurance that states may use their full federal allotment of funds from the Airport Improvement Program on security measures. The House is expected to begin debating reauthorization later this year, as the current authorization is scheduled to expire at the end of September. Fasten your seat belts, we may be in for some turbulence; the previous reauthorization required 23 short-term extensions before a long-term bill was completed. NCSL staff contacts: Ben Husch, Melanie Condon
IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT LEGISLATION. State and local groups are united in their opposition to immigration legislation that would shift costs onto state and local law enforcement agencies. In a letter to Congress, the executive directors of NCSL, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of Counties and the National League of Cities, reiterated their belief that immigration reform must be comprehensive in nature and done in consultation with state and local governments. Of concern to them is the “Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement (SAFE) Act,” which was approved by the House Judiciary Committee last year. It would make unlawful presence in the United States a criminal, rather than a civil, violation, thus transferring the responsibility for enforcing immigration law from the federal government onto state and local governments. Similar legislation is expected to be introduced this year. NCSL staff contacts: Susan Parnas Frederick, Jennifer Arguinzoni
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