Senate Passes Emergency Funds For Schools, Health Care

WASHINGTON, August 5 – The Senate today approved a bill to save the jobs of tens of thousands of public school teachers and boost Medicaid payments to states. The measure includes $19 million for Vermont schools and some $40 million will go to the state for health care.

The Senate vote was 61 to 39. The bill now goes back to the House, which next week is expected to send the bill to President Obama.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said, “These emergency health and education funds are one of Vermont’s top priorities, and this vote was long awaited and closely watched in Vermont.  As the number of Vermonters looking to Medicaid for basic health care has grown during the recession through layoffs and dropped health coverage, Vermont and states across the country are straining to meet this pressing need.  I am pleased that the Senate has taken this vital step to help Vermont’s students and teachers and our state's Medicaid program.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said, “In the midst of this horrendous recession we must not turn our backs on children and their education.  This bill will save 300 teaching positions in Vermont and help the state and local governments maintain basic services without state or local property tax increases.”

 Vermont would receive $19.3 million to fund an estimated 300 jobs in public schools, according to U.S. Department of Education estimates.  Nationwide, the education funding would avert layoffs of hundreds of thousands of public school teachers. The amendment would provide $10 billion for additional support to local school districts and help keep nearly 140,000 educators employed.

 Vermont’s share of the Medicaid assistance would total approximately $37 million, according to the state Joint Fiscal Office. Nationwide, the $16 billion for a temporary increase in federal Medicaid assistance would provide critical help for states struggling to maintain their Medicaid programs at a time of high enrollment and lagging state revenue.

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