August 5, 2010
The Senate today passed a crucial amendment that will help states avoid education job losses, and provides desperately needed Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) payments to states . The FMAP/Teacher Jobs Bill passed the senate on a vote of 61-39 and will now be sent to the House where most expect it to pass and then sent to the President for his signature. The Amendment, which was attached to the Aviation Safety and Investment Act of 2010, will send more than $26 billion in aid to states and its costs are fully offset, largely due to spending reductions made in other areas. Patty Murray, was a driving force behind this bill and worked to achieve a solution that would draw bipartisan support.
The legislation provides $16.1 billion for FMAP, and will keep the level of federal Medicaid assistance (which was increased by a minimum of 6.2% in the Recovery Act) consistent for the next 6 months and then gradually decrease the contribution level for the following 6 months. The amendment will also provide $10 billion for additional support to local school districts to prevent imminent layoffs. Nationwide it is estimated that this fund will help to save the jobs of nearly 140,000 educators.
If the legislation passes the House, the State of Washington would realize approximately $546.3 million in FMAP funds. The bill will also prevent the layoffs of up to 3,000 teachers within our state and allow the State legislature to avoid conducting a costly special session. In the words of Senator Murray, “This amendment will allow Washington State to avoid layoffs, service cuts, or tax increases—and it will make sure our children don’t walk through the schoolhouse doors this September to larger class sizes and fewer subjects”.
In an uncommon move, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the House back from its August recess to vote on the measure. They are expected to take up the issue next Tuesday the 10th.