What Does The ‘Gang Of Moderates’ Gain By Slashing Education Funding In The Stimulus?

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"What Does The ‘Gang Of Moderates’ Gain By Slashing Education Funding In The Stimulus?"

As The Wonk Room noted yesterday, Sens. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are attempting to craft a “compromise” on the economic stimulus package. This compromise entails making devastating cuts to the proposed education funding in the bill, a significant portion of which is aimed at low-income, disadvantaged students. A draft of their proposed cuts includes:

- 50 percent of Title I funding, which goes to disadvantaged students ($6.5 billion)

- 50 percent of Head Start funding, which goes to low-income families ($1 billion)

50 percent of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act funding ($6.75 billion)

- 100 percent of state education stabilization funding ($24 billion)

Nelson and Collins have convened a “gang of moderates” to hash out the specific cuts from the legislation. OpenLeft has compiled a list of likely participants in the gang.

With these members in mind, it’s worth pulling up data regarding students who stand to benefit from this stimulus funding. Here are five Senators who should be very concerned with denying the proposed education funding to their constituents. Full list after the jump.


Senator Percentage of students (5-17)
in families with income below poverty level
Percentage of non-white
students
Sen. Bayh (D-IN) 15.4% 20.5%
Sen. Collins (R-ME) 25.1% 5.4%
Sen. Martinez (R-FL) 24.8% 51.6%
Sen. McCaskill (D-MO) 27.2% 23.7%
Sen. Nelson (D-NE) 16.7% 23.5%

Of course, it’s not just that this would be good funding on a moral level, but also that education funding provides strong stimulus. This is money that will be spent now, preventing teacher layoffs and upgrading equipment, while at the same time making an investment in human capital. Down the line, when the stimulus effects of the funding have worn off, these investments in a better educated workforce will still be paying dividends. And by cutting it, these Senators gain…what?

There is also a flaw in the Senators’ thinking. They propose cutting 50 percent of some funding, but by leaving half of the money in they seem to be acknowledging that it is, in fact, stimulative. What is the point of affirming that funding will work as stimulus and then cutting it in half? This quibbling doesn’t do justice to the urgency of addressing our economic woes.


Senator Percentage of kids (5-17)
in families with income below poverty level
Percentage of non-white
students
Sen. Bayh (D-IN) 15.4% 20.5%
Sen. Bennett (D-CO) 16.2% 38.1%
Sen. Collins (R-ME) 25.1% 5.4%
Sen. Conrad (D-ND) 17.8% 13.2%
Sen. Landrieu (D-LA) 21.2% 49.9%
Sen. Lieberman (D-CT) 14% 33%
Sen. Martinez (R-FL) 24.8% 51.6%
Sen. McCaskill (D-MO) 27.2% 23.7%
Sen. Nelson (D-NE) 16.7% 23.5%
Sen. Shaheen (D-NH) 13.7% 7.1%
Sen. Snowe (R-ME) 25.1% 5.4%
Sen. Specter (R-PA) 15.2% 25.4%
Sen. Voinovich (R-OH) 11.7% 21.2%
Sen. Warner (D-VA) 10.3% 40.7%
Sen. Webb (D-VA) 10.3% 40.7%
Sen. Udall (D-CO) 16.2% 38.1%

Sources: US Census Bureau, Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates 2007; National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data 2006-07

Update

The Nelson and Collins gang is also proposing cuts in funding for Food Stamps, firefighter and police hiring, and child nutrition.

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