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Stage Now Set for GOP Tax Cuts That Could Alter Education Funding

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Both the House and Senate have now approved resolutions for the federal budget that could set the stage for a big tax overhaul. So what does that mean for education?

The resolutions, passed on Oct. 5 in the House, and on Thursday in the Senate, don't enact tax cuts by themselves. The Republicans still need to pass separate legislation, and that will be a difficult task. But among other things, the Senate can now pass the tax reductions with only a simple majority, not a filibuster-proof 60 votes. 

So these budget resolutions are in large part procedural maneuver. The real action will be how any changes to tax rates and the tax code impact education funding in the nation's capital and elsewhere. We've already written about the potential downstream effects that would occur if Congress eliminates the state and local tax deduction. Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., tried to attach language to the Senate budget resolution to protect that deduction, but their effort failed. Some Republicans from states that tend to favor Democrats and have relatively high taxes might oppose eliminating that deduction, so the debate is far from over.

And Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., introduced an amendment to help fund school choice for Native American students. McCain has long sought to expand educational options for those students through legislation. However, that amendment did not receive a vote on Thursday.

The resolutions also discuss education in at least general ways.

The Senate resolution, for example, says the budget blueprint seeks to "promote innovative educational and nutritional models and systems for American students--including amending the Higher Education Act, ensuring state flexibility in education, enhancing job training, and reforming child nutrition programs."

And the House resolution says that through its budget plan, "States and localities would reclaim their rightful authority to tailor programs in areas such as education, transportation, welfare, and environmental stewardship. They possess not only the ability but also the will to reform and modernize programs that serve their citizens."

Photo: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. The House and Senate have now passed budget resolutions for fiscal 2018 that could lead to major GOP-led tax cuts. (Evan Vucci/AP)


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