Lee Introduces Head Start Reform.

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WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Mike Lee introduced legislation to reform the early childhood education program known as Head Start.  The Head Start Improvement Act is intended to produce better results by offering states and parents greater flexibility to tailor the program to meet the specific needs of low-income children.  A 2012 study by the Obama administration showed that, despite spending $8.6 billion per year on education, health, nutrition, and other services, the program produced no lasting benefits.

“Underprivileged children need access to good education, and the scientific evidence shows the federal government does a lousy job of providing it,” Senator Lee said. “Education reform should empower principals, teachers and parents, instead of centralizing power and money in political bureaucracies. This bill would allow states, communities, schools, and families to better tailor pre-K programs to the specific needs of each eligible child.”

Confronted with the obvious failures of government programs, many states are already looking at ways to better serve their low-income populations.  For example, the Utah state legislature has created a special task force to study the prospects of “charity care” – affordable medical services for poor families provided not by government but by individuals, businesses, non-profit groups, and local communities.

“The Utah Model might not work in every state, but every state should have the freedom to solve problems their own way, according to their own values and priorities,” Lee added.

 

How it Works:

  • Provides Head Start block grants directly to eligible grantees, which include states, territories and federally recognized Indian tribes.
  • Restores the responsibility to each recipient grantee to define what entities within their state would be eligible to receive sub-grants; award sub-grants to those eligible entities; establish rules and standards for the entities awarded sub-grants; and monitor compliance with state rules and standards
  • Eligible grantees receive an allotment of the Head Start funds in proportion to the number of children aged 5 and younger from families with incomes below 130% of the poverty line residing within their State.
  • Eligible grantees must provide a 20% match to all Federal Head Start funds granted, consistent with current law.
  • All funds must be used for prekindergarten education, administration of the programs, and to provide direct technical assistance, oversight, monitoring, research and training.

 

What it Does:

  • Puts more money in the classroom instead of the Washington bureaucracy
  • Gives states and local officials and parents greater control over improving the Head Start program
  • Ensures the program will better serve the interest of low-income families with young children

“Obama acts like he’s in a candy store with a twenty-dollar bill” says Sen. Mike Enzi, Wyoming.

Obama let loose with a twenty dollar bill!
Obama let loose with a twenty dollar bill!

Washington, D.C. – Just two months ago, President Obama signed into law the Murray-Ryan budget deal that eroded deficit reductions from a previous budget agreement. The budget proposal the president introduced today is essentially a “Dear Santa” wish list for the president and his allies, according to U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., a senior member of the Senate Budget Committee.

“For years, President Obama has claimed that he is willing to address America’s fiscal challenges in an open and bipartisan matter. Sadly, this budget proposal shows that he’s thrown in the towel and would rather just spend more of your money regardless of the consequences,” said Enzi. “It’s a political document designed to fire up his political base during the last election while he’s still in office. While he may believe his legacy is on the line, history would write itself if he had the courage to lead instead of watch as we sink further under the weight of spending we can’t afford.”

The policies in the president’s budget reflect the spending priorities of the Senate majority and the Administration over the past five years – the $6.8 trillion in new spending and $1.7 trillion in new taxes shows the priority is a larger federal government. Enzi said he and his colleagues are offering better policies that would promote economic growth and create jobs without having to borrow money from other countries to finance it.

“America has the potential to go in a new direction. We just need elected representatives to listen to what their constituents are actually telling them. We need to focus on getting our debt under control, and that begins by making government leaner, not larger. We need to take an axe to the red tape and unnecessary regulations that are preventing businesses from hiring. We need to focus on bringing down the costs of health care and that begins by going in a different direction than Obamacare. There are better ideas, there are better solutions, and there are better ways forward. The president’s budget, however, is a repeat of what we know doesn’t work: more taxes, more debt, more instant gratification at the expense of our nation’s future,” said Enzi.

Enzi believes there are better solutions to addressing America’s problems than what President Obama proposes. The senator’s Penny Plan would cut one percent from total federal spending until the budget balances while giving Congress the flexibility to choose where to cut. Obamacare has increased the costs of doing business and forced more people into part-time work. One solution is to defer to state labor laws and prior federal definitions to determine who is a full-time worker or what constitutes a small business. EPA regulations on power plants and automobiles are increasing energy prices. One way to keep energy costs down is to limit the EPA’s authority and require approval by Congress for any new regulations.

 

 

 

Senators Condemn IRS Decision on Federal Employee Bonuses, Urge Reconsideration

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WASHINGTON — Five members of the Senate Finance Committee expressed strong disappointment at the IRS’s decision to award $62.5 million of employee bonuses, despite government-wide budget cuts, and asked for reconsideration of the decision and an explanation of current and future bonus plans.

Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa); Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member of the Finance Committee; Pat Roberts (R-Kan.); John Cornyn (R-Texas); and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) wrote to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen to express their concerns.

The senators called the bonuses “an insult to taxpayers,” given the IRS’s “deterioration in performance” due to budget constraints and government-wide guidance to restrict bonuses as much as possible during the mandatory budget cuts known as “sequestration.”

“Sequestration has forced everyone to make difficult decisions when it comes to spending,” the senators wrote to Koskinen.  “The American people are looking to the government to make responsible fiscal choices and use their taxpayer dollars in the most effective way.  The IRS’s decision to spend $62.5 million on bonuses is a violation of the public’s trust.  We strongly urge you to reconsider your decision.”

The Finance Committee has jurisdiction over the IRS.

Tougher Sentences on Perpetrators of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

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By Senator Chuck Grassley, of Iowa.  

Sexual abuse and domestic assault are some of the most heinous crimes.  Most people agree that these are areas where mandatory minimum criminal sentences are very much needed.

I’m concerned that the absence of mandatory minimum sentences is causing serious problems in deterring these terrible acts of sexual assault and domestic violence.  Too many sex offenders are given probation or light sentences by lenient judges.  It’s an appalling practice that needs to be stopped.

So, during last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee’s consideration of a bill to change the criminal sentencing laws for federal crimes, I offered and got passed amendments to ensure that people who commit such horrible crimes spend time behind bars.

My first amendment was adopted by a vote of 15-3 and would impose mandatory minimum sentences for various sexual abuse offenses.  A second amendment that I offered was also adopted by a vote of 15-3 and would impose a mandatory minimum sentence where death occurs as a result of the commission of the crime of interstate domestic violence.

In addition to the sexual assault and domestic violence amendments, a third amendment that I offered was adopted by voice vote.  This amendment would enact a mandatory minimum sentence for defendants convicted of willfully providing armaments, war materials and other goods and services to State sponsors of international terrorism or specially designated foreign terrorists and proliferators of weapons of mass destruction.  It also would enact a mandatory minimum for defendants convicted of willfully and illegally exporting goods and services in connection with a chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons program or a missile program.

Rogue nations and terrorist groups need to be kept from gaining access to various technologies that could inflict catastrophic damage.  The sentencing of people seeking to help these rogue nations and terrorist groups must be robust enough to send a clear message to these organizations.