U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., today announced that the fiscal year 2013 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) appropriations bill contains numerous health and education priorities for Louisiana, including $3 billion for health centers and $136 million for the Supporting Effective Educators Development (SEED) program. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved this legislation today.
Federally-qualified community health centers provide high quality, cost-effective care to medically underserved populations, reducing unnecessary emergency, hospital, and specialty care visits, saving the U.S. health system $24 billion a year. In 2010, health centers in Louisiana served more than 206,000 patients.
"For many people in Louisiana, health centers make the difference between receiving primary health care and going without. This funding will help ensure that health centers continue to provide critical, cost-effective health services to people who need it throughout our communities," Sen. Landrieu said.
The SEED program provides effective programs like Teach For America (TFA) and the National Writing Project the opportunity to compete for federal funding to make significant positive impact within the communities they serve. For TFA, this funding supports more than 9,200 corps members in 43 regions across the country, positively impacting more than 600,000 children. That translates into 500 corps members across 134 schools serving over 32,000 students in Louisiana.
While Sen. Landrieu is encouraged by funding levels for health centers and SEED, the bill fails to adequately fund the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the nation's premier medical research agency. While NIH received an increase of $100 million in funding, when inflation is factored in, it is actually a decrease from FY2012 levels.
"The NIH supports the country's most cutting edge medical research, and helps to develop and discover new treatments and cures. It also spurs economic activity throughout the country, including $166 million for Louisiana last year alone," Sen. Landrieu said. "I am mindful that in this tight budget climate trade-offs must be made. However, these successful programs need more support, not less, for our country to remain competitive with innovation and research around the globe."
At Sen. Landrieu's request, the legislation also includes:
* $3.47 billion for LIHEAP: LIHEAP is the only federal program that helps low-income households and seniors with their energy bills, providing assistance during both the cold winter and the hot summer months. This funding has been a lifeline during the economic downturn, helping to ensure that people do not have to choose between paying their energy bills and paying for food or medicine. In 2010, LIHEAP provided about 35,000 households in Louisiana with financial assistance. Families receiving LIHEAP assistance have incomes below 150 percent of the poverty line.
* $255 million for the Charter Schools Program: This program provides catalytic funding for charter school start-ups and the replication and expansion of high-performing charter schools.
* $228 million for Strengthening Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs): This program supports the nation's 105 HBCU's, which have served as the foundation of educational attainment and economic opportunity within the African American community for more than 150 years.
* $159.7 million for the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program: This program is a comprehensive approach to promoting literacy for children, from birth to 12th grade. At least 93 million American adults function at low literacy levels that inhibit their ability to succeed academically or in the workforce. Because Louisiana is a recent recipient of this competitive grant, it will benefit from the continuation grant funds this appropriation provides.
* $149.4 million for the Investing in Innovation Fund (i3): This fund supports the development and validation of promising practices, strategies and programs with potential to improve student outcomes but for which efficacy has not yet been systematically studied. It also supports the expansion of innovative practices, strategies or programs that have demonstrated a record of success in improving student outcomes. Programs in Louisiana such as Teach For America, KIPP Charter Schools, and New Schools for New Orleans are current i3 grantees.