Excellent! -------- Original Message --------Subject: !!!ALERT!!!--The Stimulus News is In--Older Blind and Education Advocacy Pays Off!!
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2009 12:38:15 -0500 From: AFB DirectConnect <blemoine@xxxxxxx> To: AFB Subscriber <afbweb@xxxxxxx> AFB DirectConnect Letterhead*!!!ALERT!!!--The Stimulus News is In--Older Blind and Education Advocacy Pays Off!!
* For further information, contact: Mark Richert Director, Public Policy, AFB (202) 822-0833 mrichert@xxxxxxx <mailto:mrichert@xxxxxxx>*Details of the massive economic stimulus package agreed to by House and Senate negotiators have been released.*
Specific reference to spending for independent living services to older individuals who are blind remains in the package. The agreement does lower the spending amount originally proposed in the House version from $50.6 million to $34.3 million, which is in keeping with the trimming of federal stimulus spending that the conference agreement makes available to similarly situated programs generally.
For example, the approximately $13 billion that both chambers proposed to spend on state grants under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was reduced in the conference agreement to $12.2 billion. While the lower spending amount approved is not as generous as originally proposed, the fact that specific authority remains for the older blind program by name in the conference agreement should ensure the availability of all of those dollars in a way that the Senate bill would not have achieved.
In addition, the offensive language in the Senate version of the stimulus bill that would have given the Secretary of Education considerable additional authority to redirect special education dollars to unrelated purposes was not included in the agreed-to package.
Given the fast pace of the legislative process and the detailed nature of these issues, maintaining the specific reference to Chapter 2 services and rolling back an effort to give wider latitude to governors to use IDEA dollars for other purposes is significant success. Special thanks are in order to all who made time to contact Congress to communicate the concerns of our field, particularly the many individual agency and consumer leaders who reached out to AFB and worked with us. Additional details about the landmark stimulus legislation and its impact on other issues of concern to people with vision loss will be shared with readers soon.
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