Bennet: Important Step Forward for Effort to Protect Teacher Jobs, Colorado's Most Vulnerable

Bennet Led Effort to Request Medicaid Funding Extension to Aid States

Washington, DC – Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado, released the following statement after the Senate moved forward legislation to provide emergency resources to prevent widespread layoffs of teachers and protect access to Medicaid services for Colorado’s kids and vulnerable populations:

“Today brings long overdue good news to teachers and kids in Colorado and those worried about losing access to the health care they need,” Bennet said. “The Senate broke through the usual gridlock and cleared the biggest remaining hurdle towards passing education jobs and Medicaid extension legislation. The package—which is entirely paid for—will save thousands of jobs and protect health services for kids and vulnerable populations across Colorado and the country. During this savage economy that is hurting families all over our state and our country, as we work to get our ship righted, our kids and our schools should be at the top of our list of priorities.

“If we are going to ensure that we leave more opportunity for our kids than we ourselves have had then we must remain committed to education—to set the table for our kids’ futures; to prepare them for the competitive world that awaits them; and to enrich their lives with a better education than the one that was offered to us.”

Bennet has been a leader in the fight for the Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) funding and saving teachers’ jobs. He was an original cosponsor of the Keep Our Educators Working Act of 2010, introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). In January, he also led a group of 37 of his Senate colleagues in submitting a letter urging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to provide states with an additional six-month FMAP extension.

The Medicaid FMAP extension is just hours away from a full up-down vote by the Senate.  Without it, states will be forced to layoff tens of thousands more teachers and other public employees, cut education funding more, and further reduce payments to health care providers and other private firms.  More than 900,000 public and private sector jobs could be lost.

Colorado alone would lose more than $200 million if the FMAP extension falls victim to Washington politics.  Likely cuts include eliminating state aid for full-day kindergarten for 35,000 children, eliminating preschool aid for 21,000 children, and increasing overcrowding in juvenile detention facilities, according the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Additionally, the education jobs funding would prevent the loss of between 2,000 and 3,000 teacher jobs in Colorado alone.