Advocates for teachers have had several cringe-worthy moments in 2017.
That’s not necessarily a surprise. The two national teachers’ unions, for example, backed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton early and vigorously in 2016, and pushed back hard against then-candidate Donald Trump. But nearly 10 months into a Trump administration and a Republican-dominated Congress, the potential changes to policies impacting teachers are starting to become clear and more numerous.
- The House spending proposal for education for the next budget year eliminates about $2 billion in Title II funding that goes towards teacher training and a reduction in class sizes. That could leave 9,000 education jobs out to dry. The Senate spending bill keeps Title II money intact, but when the House and Senate eventually reach a compromise on federal education funding, Title II money is a primate candidate to get reduced if not eliminated altogether. Especially since Trump wants the entire program scrapped just like the House does.
- The Republican’s proposed rewrite of the tax code does away with the $250 tax deduction teachers can take for personal money they spend on classroom supplies. In the grand scheme of the legislation, that’s not a huge provision. But it’s provoked the ire of teachers who think the bill already could hurt them in other ways. Speaking of which ...
- The GOP-only tax legislation could also shrink non-federal resources for education, since it tosses out some deductions many taxpayers take for state and local taxes. That in turn could pressure some states to cut their tax rates and therefore their revenue base for public school spending.
- And don’t forget the judicial branch. In September, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to once again hear a case that could overturn a 40-year precedent allowing unions to collect fees from those who aren’t members. Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 31 is the successor to Friedrichs v.California Teachers Association, which resulted in a deadlocked 4-4 verdict. Now that Justice Neil M. Gorsuch is on the bench, opponents of the union’s ability to get those fees might have the fifth vote they need.
However, it may not be all bad news when it comes to money. Under the GOP tax proposal, some teachers could end up seeing a tax cut that would have a lot more of an impact on their personal finances than the $250 deduction for classroom expenses. Those with low to middle incomes and who don’t have children, for example, would be winners under the bill, although the value of the change could be relatively small.
Overall, the value of the income tax cuts would reportedly decline across income brackets between 2019 and 2027.
Important reminder: None of those things we listed are a done deal. The proposed changes to state and local tax deductions, for instance, is controversial even in the GOP congressional caucus.
Earlier this year, we wrote that life for many federal education lobbyists has taken a dramatic turn during the Trump administration.
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