January Government Relations Update

Making It Easier to Do Business in America Entrepreneurs who want to do business with the government are often all too familiar with competing bureaucracies, overlapping agencies and other red tape. On January 13, President Obama announced a plan to streamline business in America by merging six departments: the U.S. Department of Commerce’s core business and trade functions, the Small Business Administration, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency. The President is asking Congress for the authority to consolidate those six agencies into a single department devoted to promoting American business.  Visit here for more information on the proposal.

Appropriations Bill President Obama signed an omnibus appropriations bill (H.R. 2055) on December 23 funding the Department of Education. The bill appropriated $68.1 billion in discretionary spending, a decrease of $233 million from FY11. The bill includes: $549 million for a new round of Race to the Top; $149 million for the Investing in Innovation Fund; $14.5 billion for Title I grants ($74 million increase); $2.47 billion for state programs to improve teacher and educational leader quality; $11.6 billion for state special education grants ($112 million increase); $22.8 billion for Pell Grants for low- and middle-income college undergraduates; $160 million for the Striving Readers literary program; $60 million for the Promise Neighborhood initiative, which is double its FY 2011 funding level; and $534 million for the School Improvement Grant program.  More details on the budget bill can be found here.

Race to the Top The Department announced on December 23 that Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania will each receive a proportional share of $200 million in Race to the Top phase three funding.  These seven states were eligible for new grant awards as high-scoring finalists in the 2010 Race to the Top competition, and the third round of competition focused on supporting efforts to leverage comprehensive statewide reform while also improving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.  Fourteen other states (California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Washington) and the District of Columbia have been awarded grants through the Race to the Top and Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Fund, representing awards to states serving 65% of the country’s children and 59% of the low-income students.   Visit here for more information.