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Stay Tuned for a Special 100 Day Report
In the coming weeks, the National Taxpayers Union Foundation will be releasing a report detailing the proposed spending of the House of Representatives during the first 100 days of the 112th Congress. NTUF is America's only research organization that conducts a full study of what federal legislatures would spend if all their supported measures were enacted into law. As always, special highlights and exclusive commentary will be available through The Taxpayer's Tab.
Most Expensive Bill of the Week
The Bill: H.R. 864, Keep Our PACT Act
Annualized Cost: $23.133 billion ($115.664 billion over five years)
Congressman Chris Van Hollen (MD-8) sponsored the Keep Our Promise to America's Children and Teachers Act. The bill would increase spending for sections of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Currently, the Department of Education spends approximately $14.5 billion to fund Part A of Title I of ESEA. Title I establishes federal funding structures for school districts with higher than average percentages of low-income households. Spending within Title I include grants and allocations to improve local education systems with a majority of such funds dedicated to grades one through six, followed by preschool and kindergarten programs. If enacted, H.R. 864 would increase ESEA spending by $65.7 billion over the next five fiscal years.
Annual IDEA spending is approximately $11.5 billion. The Act provides specialized funding and programs for disabled students including individualized education programs, transportation, and support services. The goal of IDEA is to ensure that a family of a disabled student does not bear a greater financial burden for the student's education than what another student in the district would face. When the program was established, Congress committed to providing 40 percent of the national average per-pupil cost for special education students, but due to the cost, funding remained short of that goal. If enacted, H.R. 864 increase IDEA spending by $50 billion over five years.
Least Expensive Bill of the Week
The Bill: H.R. 1231, Reversing President Obama's Offshore Moratorium Act
Annualized Savings: -$66 million (-$328 million over five years)
Sponsored by Congressman Doc Hastings (WA-4), H.R. 1231 would open new sites on or along the continental shelf to drilling. Areas projected to contain more than 2.5 billion barrels of oil or 7.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas would be eligible to be leased. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), locations already known to have such petroleum resources include parts of the Gulf of Mexico, the Aleutian Island chain as well as, the Alaskan, the Mid-Atlantic, and the Southern California coastlines.
Under existing law, new leases would not occur on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts until 2017 and 2021 for the Gulf of Mexico.
As more areas are opened to drilling and more leases are processed, CBO estimates that H.R. 1231 would increase administrative and environmental assessment costs by $12 million. However, once drilling begins, the federal government would start to collect royalties, which are categorized as offsetting receipts (reductions in direct spending) for budgetary purposes, that would range in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Bill: H.R. 1002/S. 543, Wireless Tax Fairness Act of 2011
Annualized Cost: "No Cost" - Regulatory
Number of Cosponsors: 187 Congressmen and 7 Senators
Citing the high taxes already paid by consumers of mobile and wireless services, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (CA-16) and Congressman Trent Franks (AZ-2) introduced H.R. 1002. The bill imposes a five-year moratorium on any new taxes or fees on wireless goods and services. In the Senate, Senators Ron Wyden (OR) and Olympia Snowe (ME) sponsored S. 543, which would establish the same five-year ban.
The Wireless Tax Fairness Act does not change federal spending and is therefore a No Cost bill, according to NTUF's BillTally methodology. H.R. 1002 and S. 543 may pose a burden on state and local governments, but the bills do not appear to affect spending at the federal level.
Cosponsors include 65 Democrats and 122 Republican in the House. Three Democrats and four Republicans support S. 543 in the Senate.
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The Bill: H.R. 1628, Trash Reduction Act of 2011
Annualized Cost: $4.08 billion ($20.4 billion over five years)
The Trash Reduction Act would impose a five-cent tax on every disposable plastic bag provided to consumers to carry their purchases. The tax would not apply to reusable bags, bags already used for foods such as prepared or baked goods, or any bag bundles, such as garbage or pet waste bags.
The bill would establish the Land and Water Conservation Fund and direct eighty percent of the taxes collected to the fund for conservation programs. The other twenty percent of the collected monies would support a new nonrefundable tax credit for retailers taking part in bag recycling programs and/or selling reusable bags made from 100 percent recycled materials.
According to the sponsor, Congressman Jim Moran (VA-8), Americans use approximately 102 billion plastic bags per year. NTUF estimates that the four cents levied on each bag could total $4.08 billion each year. It is unclear if additional costs would result from administering the new tax.
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