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Most Expensive Bill of the Week
The Bill: H.R. 646, A bill to authorize the appropriation of funds to be used to recruit, hire, and train 100,000 new classroom paraprofessionals in order to improve educational achievement for children
Annualized Cost: $1 billion ($5 billion over five years)
Congressman Jose Serrano (NY-16) introduced H.R. 646 to decrease the ratio of students to staff in public elementary and secondary school classrooms. The bill would fund the hiring of 100,000 new paraprofessionals for state and local education agencies. Often referred to as aides, paraprofessionals are special-education workers who support teachers but are not licensed to teach. They can offer one-on-one instruction for students as well as administrative support.
In order to increase significantly the number of paraprofessionals, H.R. 646 would provide school districts with money to recruit, hire, train, and fund professional development efforts for new teaching assistants. In the event a district has already achieved a target ratio range of between 3 and 18 students to one instructor, they may use the funds to equalize the ratio even more or assist paraprofessionals in becoming licensed teachers.
According to the text of the bill, $1 billion would be spent each fiscal year between 2012 and 2016.
Least Expensive Bill of the Week
The Bill: S. 164, Withholding Tax Relief Act of 2011
Annualized Savings: -$39 billion (first year savings)
The Withholding Tax Relief Act would repeal a three percent withholding tax that was scheduled to take effect in 2012. The tax would be levied on vendors and contractors who provide goods and services to federal, state, and local governments. The tax was enacted in 2005.
To offset the projected revenue loss, Senator Scott Brown's (MA) bill would rescind $39 billion in federal funds not already obligated for specific purposes. The cuts would be made from discretionary funds excluding the Departments of Defense or Veterans Affairs. The rescission would result in $39 billion less of federal spending.
S. 164 includes provisions included in two other bills. Senator David Vitter's (LA) S. 89 and Congressman Wally Herger's (CA-2) H.R. 674 would also repeal the withholding provision. As the two bills only address revenues, there would be no new federal spending associated with their passage.
The Bill: H.R. 998/S. 555, Student Non-Discrimination Act of 2011
Annualized Cost: No Cost
Number of Cosponsors: 103 Congressmen and 30 Senators
To help protect public school students of all sexual orientations and gender identities, Congressman Jared Polis (CO-2) and Senator Al Franken (MN) introduced the Student Non-Discrimination Act. The bill would prohibit harassment, retaliation, and general discrimination in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
Implementing H.R. 998 or S. 555 would not result in any significant new federal spending. The anti-discrimination mandate would follow laws already in place for gender and ethnic equality.
Cosponsors include 102 Democrats and one Republican in the House. In Senate, all 30 cosponsors caucus with the Democratic Party.
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