HACU Legislative Update--February 27, 2007
FY2007 Budget - On February 15, the President signed HJ Res. 20 which provides funding for FY2007 at the FY2006 level for all federal budgets except the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security whose FY2007 budgets passed during the waning days of the 109th Congress. The only other exceptions are a $615 million increase to the Pell Grant program, raising the maximum grant from $4,050 to $4,310, and a $620 million increase for the National Institutes of Health. All federally funded HSI programs will continue at the FY2006 funding level for 2007.
President's FY2008 Budget Proposal - On February 5 the administration sent the FY2008 spending bill to Congress, recommending curtailment of domestic programs to free up resources for
Higher Education Act (HEA) - Legislators from both chambers are busy reintroducing new bills for inclusion in the Higher Education Bill when it is reintroduced. Rep. Hinojosa (TX), Chair of the Subcommittee on Higher Education, Life Long Learning and Competitiveness for the Education and Labor Committee, reintroduced the New Generation Hispanic-Serving Institutions Act (HR 451) creating a Title V Graduate Education program. Senator Bingaman (NM) also reintroduced the Senate companion bill (S 565).
Other key HEA bills include the College Student Relief Act of 2007 (S 282) by Senator Durbin (IL), the College Student Relief Act of 2007 by Rep. McKeon (CA), the Student Debt Relief Act of 2007 by Senator Kennedy (MA), and the Nontraditional Student Success Act (S 301) by Senator Clinton (NY).
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) - The reauthorization of the NCLB, a "legislative must" for the 110th Congress according to both the administration and Congress, appears to be on schedule for completion during this session. The administration has developed "A Blueprint for Strengthening the No Child Left behind Act" which includes a commitment to improve math and science instruction. Senator Collins (ME) introduced the Flexibility and Improvement Act and Reps. McCarthy (NY) and Pryce (OH) have introduced the Graduation Really Achieves Dream Act as two key bills for the NCLB authorization. HACU is working with other education organizations like the American Council on Education (ACE), The Alliance for Equity in Higher Education, the Hispanic Higher Education Coalition (HEC) to advance HACU's priorities as a part of these organizations' NCLB recommendations.
Farm Bill - With the assistance of four colleges, the HACU Government Relations (GR) office sponsored five focus group meetings: the HACU Annual Conference in
Wireless Technology and MSIs - Senator M. Pryor (AK) introduced a wireless and technology bill (S 639) on February 15, similar to S 291 and S 315 (Digital and Wireless Technology) already introduced. This bill will fund four pilot digital wireless and network technology programs for MSIs to test the effectiveness of online higher education programs to increase the number of graduates in science and technology disciplines.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) - The competitiveness issue will again be a major legislative initiative. Rep. Davis (VA) introduced the Higher Education Science and Technology Competitiveness Act (HR 102) to encourage articulation agreements between 2 and 4 year colleges to assist students to choose and succeed in STEM careers.
Minority Health Disparities - Comprehensive health issues and minority health disparities are also emerging as major legislative initiatives. Rep. Solis (CA) is the first to introduce a health bill (HR 398) with a focus on eradicating specific illnesses and diseases affecting minority populations. Other bills can be expected during the next few months.
The Capitol Forum - Planning continues for the 12th annual Capitol Forum March 25-27. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Johanns is confirmed to speak on the Farm Bill and the Deputy Secretary of Education Kathleen Leos will speak on NCLB reauthorization. Admiral Allen, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, and Cora Marrett, Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation, are among other invited keynote speakers. This is an important opportunity for HACU members to make our case before the new Congress. More information can be found at www.hacu.net.
Western Regional Office (WRO)
Erica M. Romero