House and Senate Pass Spending Bill, Includes Increase for ESSCP
Before heading home for the holidays, the House and Senate passed HR 2764, an omnibus spending bill that finally completes the fiscal year 2008 budget cycle. The omnibus bill includes funding for 11 of the 12 annual spending bills for the government and provides $555 billion in domestic funding for the year, which includes approximately $62.3 billion for the U.S. Department of Education. It also includes $70 billion for military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and $11.2 billion in so-called “emergency spending” for veterans health care and a long list of unforeseen disasters. To craft a measure that the President would not veto, Congress had to make some very difficult spending decisions. This resulted in a spending package that is less generous than the conference agreements which had been previously adopted by the House and Senate and ultimately vetoed, However, the plandoes include some increases for priority programs for the Democrats – including the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program (ESSCP).
While some education programs saw modest increases, most program funding was decreased or level funded. However the news for school counselors is extremely positive! One of the programs that received the largest increase in the bill was the ESSCP. The ESSCP received $48.62 million in funding for FY 2008, which is a 40.31% increase over FY 2007 levels. Once this bill is signed by the President (which he expected to do in the next two weeks), this would be the highest funding level the program has received to date and make it possible for the first time in the history of the program for secondary school counselors to apply for ESSCP grants since the $40 million trigger has been reached!
Thanks to your ongoing support in the form of calls to members of Congress, this increase in funding should be viewed as a huge victory for school counselors and our ability to provide more comprehensive school counseling programs to students across the nation.