House Education & Workforce Committee

Rep. Messer Introduces Bill to Protect Classrooms from ObamaCare’s Punitive Employer Mandate

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 05/30/2014 - 12:00am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Member Luke Messer (R-IN) today introduced legislation in response to the challenges facing schools as the result of the president’s health care law. The Safeguarding Classrooms Hurt by ObamaCare’s Obligatory Levies (SCHOOL) Act (H.R. 4775) would exempt schools, colleges, and universities from the health care law’s employer mandate.

“At a time when school systems across the country are strapped for cash, it is not fair to pay for the president's health care law on the backs of our students and teachers,” said Rep. Messer. “If we really care about our kids and their education, we will do something about it. This bill will stop the harmful ObamaCare tax on school districts, save jobs, and ensure more money is left in school budgets for teacher development and student learning.” 

“Too often Washington forgets that federal policies unrelated to education can still burden our nation’s classrooms,” said Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN). “The president’s health care law is a prime example. We shouldn’t stand by while this fatally-flawed law makes it more difficult for teachers, administrators, and higher education leaders to provide students the quality education they deserve. I want to thank Representative Messer for his leadership on this important issue and urge all my colleagues to put students first by supporting the SCHOOL Act.”

Through news articles, hearing testimony, and feedback from education stakeholders, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce continues to learn about ObamaCare’s consequences for the nation’s education system. One witness at an oversight hearing noted the health care law will lead to $4.6 million in new costs for his K-12 school district potentially costing 58 teaching positions. Another testified the law may force his university to increase tuition by 20 percent. Helieanna from Minnesota told the committee through its #YourStory initiative that her teaching load was cut, meaning “a difference of thousands of dollars in my paycheck.”

To help protect administrators, teachers, and students from the negative effects of the health care law, the SCHOOL Act:

  • Exempts K-12 schools, institutions of higher education, and state and local educational agencies from the requirements of the health care law’s employer mandate.
     
  • Requires the secretary of education to evaluate the impact of the SCHOOL Act on schools’ ability to meet the educational needs of low-income students and institutions’ ability to maintain current academic opportunities.

To read a fact sheet, click here.

To read the text of H.R. 4775, click here.

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Safeguarding Classrooms Hurt by ObamaCare’s Obligatory Levies (SCHOOL) Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 05/30/2014 - 12:00am

 

THE PROBLEM:

Across the country, workers and job creators are struggling with the consequences of the president’s government-run health care scheme. Higher costs, fewer hours of work, and loss of existing health insurance continue to threaten the health and income security of working families. However, these problems plague not only America’s workplaces, but our classrooms as well. Last year the House Education and the Workforce Committee began examining the effects of the health care law on schools, colleges, and universities. Following an oversight hearing, the committee launched the #YourStory initiative, which provides the American people an opportunity to share personal anecdotes on this important issue. Through these efforts and recent press reports, the ObamaCare challenges facing America’s classrooms are coming to light:

  • Cities, counties, public schools and community colleges around the country have limited or reduced the work hours of part-time employees to avoid having to provide them with health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, state and local officials say. (New York Times, “Public Sector Cuts Part-Time Shifts to Bypass Insurance Law.”)
     
  • "I received word today that my teaching load for the rest of the school year will be cut by four credits – a difference of thousands of dollars in my paycheck.” (YourStory, Helieanna of Minnesota)
     
  • “Looking at these numbers in their entirety, the cost of the Affordable Care Act requirements to the Meriden Board of Education approaches $4.6M potentially costing us 58 teaching positions.” (Hearing of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, Testimony of Dr. Mark Benigni.)
      
  • "Who is really being punished is the students... The travesty is we are making a decision not to put the best teacher in front of the class.” (YourStory, Christopher of New York)  

THE SOLUTION:

To protect administrators, teachers, and students from the negative effects of the health care law, Representative Luke Messer (R-IN) introduced the Safeguarding Classrooms Hurt by ObamaCare’s Obligatory Levies (SCHOOL) Act. The legislation will help prevent the health care law from inflicting additional harm on the nation’s education system.

H.R. 4775 - THE SCHOOL ACT: 

  • Exempts K-12 schools, institutions of higher education, and state and local educational agencies from the requirements of the health care law’s employer mandate.
      
  • Requires the secretary of education to evaluate the impact of the SCHOOL Act on schools’ ability to meet the educational needs of low-income students and institutions’ ability to maintain current academic opportunities.

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Left Turn: Schools and Colleges Continue to Struggle under ObamaCare’s Burdensome Mandates

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 05/28/2014 - 12:00am

It’s no secret the president’s health care law is making life difficult for working families. Many of the ObamaCare problems plaguing the nation’s workplaces – lower wages, loss of existing coverage, higher costs – are emerging in classrooms across the country as well. To learn more about the consequences of the health care law on the nation’s schools and students, the Education and the Workforce Committee launched the #YourStory initiative. News reports and feedback received from education stakeholders reveal the tough challenges ObamaCare has levied on our education system:

Spokesman Brock Letchworth said the [Pitt County] school system had to cut the hours of substitute teachers because it could not afford to provide health care coverage to those teachers deemed full-time by the Affordable Care Act. “The cost for us to be able to provide health care to everyone would be just over $1 million...and that is the lowest cost to this school system.” – WNCN, North Carolina, Pitt Co. cuts substitute teacher hours due to Obamacare

The [Calvert] County school system is one of the best in the state. But now the school system has a problem – ObamaCare. The system faces a 13.7 percent increase in health care costs next year, as previously uncovered substitute teachers get covered and the overall policy costs are higher. – Harlan Daily, Maryland, Obamacare cost shockwave hits local schools

According to documents released by Minnesota’s Management and Budget (MMB) office, over the next three years, the total unfunded costs associated with Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliance will cost school districts statewide at least $207.96 million. “This is troubling news for our schools,” Torkelson said. “This is $200 million that school districts won’t be able to use to hire more teachers or improve their educational programs. This is an unneeded expense that does absolutely nothing for our students.” – Mankato Times, Minnesota, Minnesota Schools to lose more than $200 Million because of Obamacare

Gov. Mary Fallin and legislative leaders have announced a Fiscal Year 2015 budget agreement that provides an $80 million increase for K-12 public education (with much of the hike lost to increased ObamaCare premiums)…increased health insurance costs under what is widely deemed ObamaCare will eat up approximately half ($40 million) of the projected “new money” for common schools. – City Sentinel, Oklahoma, “Global agreement” for OK state budget announced, with historic pension reforms included

I am the Superintendent of Schools…we will be forced to reduce the hours of our Educational Technicians. Reducing the ed tech hours, obviously reduces services to the children here. It is particularly harmful to students who require a one on one ed tech. – Quenten, Maine, Education and the Workforce Committee’s #YourStory Initiative

I am an adjunct professor…All in all I am going to lose about $14,000 a year in income…this situation has gone from bad to worse since the IRS created a formula to calculate our actual teaching hours plus prep time…I find it very strange and unfair that the IRS can dictate to my employer how many hours a week I am allowed to work. – Cris, Pennsylvania, Education and the Workforce Committee’s #YourStory Initiative

To share #YourStory, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/YourStory or e-mail the committee at TellYourStory@mail.house.gov.

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ICYMI: News Reports Highlight Bipartisan Job Training Agreement

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 05/22/2014 - 12:00am
On Wednesday House and Senate leaders announced a bipartisan deal to reform the nation’s workforce development system. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) will streamline a maze of duplicative programs and help hardworking Americans prepare for in-demand careers.

Read highlights from press reports on the compromise:

The compromise measure would eliminate 15 of 47 existing federal workforce training programs, provide a single metric for assessing performance across all of the remaining programs and allow state and local workforce development boards to tailor efforts to the needs in their areas. – Bloomberg BNA, Lawmakers Reach Bipartisan Deal to Fund, Streamline Numerous Job Training Programs

The agreement will eliminate some programs, overhaul Job Corps, make changes in the makeup of advisory boards and lay out specific appropriations…“We can’t expect a modern workforce to succeed with an outdated job training system… with too much bureaucracy, too many inefficiencies, and too little accountability,” House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline, R-Minn., said in a release.” – CQ Roll Call, Agreement on Long-Stalled Job Training Measure Unveiled
 
[The deal] is a victory for House Republican leaders, who have touted the bill for months as an area where they could find common ground with the Obama administration and Senate Democrats…“Dozens of other House passed pieces of legislation that help grow our economy and create jobs remain stalled in the Senate, and I hope this is a sign of more action to come,” [Majority Leader Eric Cantor] said. – The Hill, House and Senate strike rare election-year deal

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) will spearhead the bill in the House. Foxx, chairwoman of the House education committee’s workforce subcommittee, crafted the House’s original WIA rewrite…In recent months, Foxx has repeatedly criticized both President Barack Obama and the Senate for not doing enough to reform workforce programs. – Politico Pro, Senate, House join forces on workforce bill

“With Americans still asking ‘where are the jobs?,’ here’s another example of what we can accomplish when Senate Democrats work with us to address the people’s priorities,” House Speaker John Boehner says in [an] e-mailed statement. – Bloomberg, Bipartisan Jobs Training Bill to Be Considered in House, Senate

"For Americans having a hard time finding the skills they need for the jobs they want, we are about to deliver reforms that will help close that gap," House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) said in a statement Wednesday. "The legislation announced today cuts through the clutter of outdated programs and puts a greater focus on in-demand jobs." – Wall Street Journal, Lawmakers Reach Deal on Job Retraining

[The bill] consolidates and streamlines programs... requires all programs to show how they do on a common set of performance metrics… improves outreach to disconnected youths… boosts the preparation of young people with disabilities to work in competitive employment. – Christian Science Monitor, Workforce of the future? Bipartisan bill would overhaul job training

If the bill clears both chambers of Congress, as expected, it would be the first time that Congress had renewed the Workforce Investment Act, or WIA, which was enacted in 1998…The rare bipartisan agreement comes at a time when many Americans are growing frustrated with the sluggish economy and fluctuating job market.Chronicle of Higher Education, Key Job-Training Legislation Finally Heads Toward Passage

“The current workforce development system is broken,” said Chairman Kline. “I am pleased we are moving toward adopting comprehensive reform that provides employers, workers, and taxpayers the job training solutions they deserve.”

Click here to read more about the bipartisan compromise and learn how the bill will improve the nation’s workforce development system.

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Bipartisan, Bicameral Group Announces Deal to Improve American Workforce Development System

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 05/21/2014 - 12:00am
Today, a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers announced that they have reached a deal to improve the nation’s workforce development system through new legislation, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The bill, which will now be considered by both the House and Senate, modernizes and improves existing federal workforce development programs, helps workers attain skills for 21st century jobs, and fosters the modern workforce that evolving American businesses rely on to compete.;

WIOA represents a compromise between the SKILLS Act (H.R. 803), which passed the House of Representatives in March 2013 with bipartisan support, and the Workforce Investment Act of 2013 (S. 1356), which passed through the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee with a bipartisan vote of 18-3 in July of 2013.

A one-page summary of the legislation can be found here.

The statement of managers, including a section-by-section summary of the legislation, can be found here.

A summary of key improvements WIOA makes to current workforce development programs can be found here.

The text of the bipartisan, bicameral agreement can be found here.

“Access to training, education, and employment services opens doors to the middle class for workers and helps strengthen our economy. This bipartisan, bicameral reauthorization of theWorkforce Investment Act will help ensure that all workers—including those with disabilities—can access these opportunities. It will provide better coordination and value to our workforce development system,” said Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), who is chairman of the Senate HELP Committee. “This bill also makes groundbreaking changes that will raise prospects and expectations for Americans with disabilities, many of whom, under current law, are shunted to segregated, subminimum wage settings without ever receiving the opportunities and skills to succeed in competitive, integrated employment. It will stem the flow of young people into segregated employment by requiring that they be given experience in integrated settings, and require state Vocational Rehabilitation programs to work with individuals to develop an individual employment plan and support them in integrated work settings. This bill truly represents the spirit of bipartisan compromise and cooperation, and I applaud my colleagues on the HELP Committee and on the Education and the Workforce Committee for their perseverance and commitment to updating this critical law. I urge senators on both sides of the aisle to support this bill when it comes up for a vote.”

“We can’t expect a modern workforce to succeed with an outdated job training system. The current workforce development system is broken with too much bureaucracy, too many inefficiencies, and too little accountability,” said Representative John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “The problems we face have been apparent for a long time and I am pleased we are moving toward adopting comprehensive reform that provides employers, workers, and taxpayers the job training solutions they deserve. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to send this agreement to the president’s desk without delay.”

“Last year the federal government spent more than $145 million in Tennessee through a maze of programs trying to help Tennesseans find work,” said Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Ranking Member of the Senate HELP Committee. “Our legislation will simplify that maze, give governors and states more flexibility, and make it easier for Tennessee's 13 local workforce investment boards to match job seekers with the  skills employers are looking for.”

“By revising the original Workforce Investment Act to support access to real-world education in fields that are in demand locally, this legislation will help more workers across the country find a good job or train for a new career. Similar to the legislation proposed by Reps. Tierney and Hinojosa earlier this Congress, this bill also makes job training programs more efficient and effective by requiring that states developed unified plans to streamline and better coordinate these services,” said Representative George Miller (D-CA), senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee. "By strengthening the workforce development system, we will increase accountability, promote innovation, and make it easier to track results, while helping put more Americans back to work. I'm proud to have worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to develop this proposal and hope to see it signed into law this year.”

“Every year, federal workforce investments help millions of Americans get back to work, go back to school, and increase their skills for an economy that’s changing faster than ever, but for too long, we’ve been relying on workforce development programs written in the 1990s,” said Senator Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate HELP Committee.  “This bipartisan, bicameral legislation will bring  federal worker programs into the 21st Century, give workers and students the resources they need to succeed, and foster a workforce that American businesses rely on to compete. It’s a prime example of what’s possible when Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate work together to write laws that help our economy grow. I want to thank Senator Isakson, who co-authored the Senate reauthorization bill with me, and all of my colleagues, for their hard work and commitment to moving this forward.”

“This is a good example of what Congress can achieve when we all come to the table and work towards a compromise that respects the opinions of legislators on both sides of the aisle,” said Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chair of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training. “This bill will eliminate fifteen duplicative programs, help the remaining programs better align worker education with available jobs and improve our ability to gauge how well the system is working as a whole. I want to thank my colleagues in the House for passing the SKILLS Act and my colleagues in the Senate for considering this long overdue re-authorization of the Workforce Investment Act.”

“Workforce investment and training is critically important to help grow the American economy still recovering from recession and to bridge the widening skills gap separating thousands of unemployed workers from good-paying jobs,” said Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), a senior member of the Senate HELP Committee. “I thank Senator Murray and my colleagues for their bipartisan efforts on this legislation, and I look forward to getting this measure passed so we can get Americans back to work and meet the modern demands of businesses employees in a global environment.”

This bipartisan agreement helps American workers get back on track by promoting sector strategies and career pathways that lead to good jobs and postsecondary education in our nation's public workforce training and adult education system,” said Representative Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX),  ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training. “This bill makes certain that the connection between adult education, postsecondary education and the workforce is strengthened. We as a nation must be inclusive in our workforce, and this bill provides better services to workers young and old, with disabilities, and to those populations that have significant barriers to employment. It also addresses the need to improve services for English language learners that will ease their participation into our nation's workforce. I am pleased to see the progress we are making in the Senate and in the House and look forward to having this bill signed into law.”

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