Today the Senate voted 61-39 to distribute $10 billion in supplemental spending to states to retain or hire back laid-off K-12 educators, including school librarians.
This vote is a huge win for the education community as well as school librarians who are in school districts that could not afford to keep them employed for the 2010-11 school year.
As is usually case in Washington, “politics” came in to play, and in order to get the needed votes, leadership had to include “off-sets” into the bill. “Off-sets” are funds that are rescinded from other sources in the federal budget to pay for another program or one-time spending appropriation.
Unfortunately, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) was one of the programs that received cuts. It took a $302 million rescission from the money that was appropriated in last year’s stimulus bill. BTOP is a package of stimulus programs administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce that will soon grant a second round of funding for broadband projects, including some for public computing centers (PCCs) that includes libraries. It is unclear how these cuts may affect any of the library-related proposals under consideration.
The House of Representatives still needs to approve the changes the Senate made to this supplemental package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to call the House members back from their August recess on Tuesday, August 10, to make a final vote on this bill before sending to the President for his approval.