DC Digest - July 19, 2012
In Today's Issue:
- University Leaders - including Brodhead -Urge Policymakers to Avoid Sequestration
- Non-Defense Discretionary Spending Coalition Calls for Balanced Deficit Reduction
- OFR Hosts Congressional Briefing on DOD-Funded Research at Duke
- Associations Urge NLRB to Comply with Court Ruling on Faculty Unionization
- AAU Asks Committee Leaders to Reject Excessive USDA Reporting Language
- Brookings Report on H1-B Visas
- Duke Law Prof Testifies Before Senate Subcommittee
- Congressional Hearings on College Affordability
- New Report Says Public Perceptions of College Affordability are Worse than Reality
UNIVERSITY LEADERS URGE POLICYMAKERS TO AVOID SEQUESTRATION AND SEEK LONG-TERM BUDGET DEAL
A group of more than 150 university presidents and chancellors from all 50 states and the District of Columbia sent a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders on July 11 urging them to avoid a year-end budget sequestration and forge a major, balanced, long-term deficit-reduction agreement.
The letter, spearheaded by AAU and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, calls on policymakers to find an agreement that will “reduce budget deficits, rein in the nation’s debt, and create economic and job growth to ensure our nation’s long-term fiscal health and to prevent the indiscriminate cuts of sequestration.”
The university leaders say that a prudent and effective deficit reduction agreement should address entitlement spending and tax reform to encourage economic growth and raise revenues. They also point out that even as the overall federal budget might be constrained, certain investments in the future, such as education and scientific research, must be a top priority. “Federal support for scientific research and student financial aid laid the foundation for the dramatic expansion of the 20th century U.S. economy and can do the same in the 21st,” they write.
Sequestration Letter (pdf)
NON-DEFENSE DISCRETIONARY SPENDING COALITION CALLS FOR BALANCED DEFICIT REDUCTION
A group of nearly 3,000 organizations delivered a letter to all Members of Congress on July 12 asking them to work together to avert budget sequestration in January by adopting a “balanced approach to deficit reduction” that includes no further cuts to the nondefense discretionary (NDD) portion of the federal budget.
The letter argues that NDD spending is less than one-fifth of the federal budget but has taken a disproportionate share of recent budget cuts. “America’s day-to-day security requires more than military might,” says the letter. “NDD programs support our economy, drive our global competitiveness, and provide an environment where all Americans may lead healthy, productive lives. Only a balanced approach to deficit reduction can restore fiscal stability, and NDD has done its part.”
The letter was organized by the “NDD Summit,” a group of 60 individuals representing the diverse interests in the NDD budget, including health, education, science, law enforcement, housing, workforce, and transportation.
NDD Letter (publichealthfund)
NDD Press Release (publichealthfunding.org)
NDD Fact Sheet (publichealthfunding.org)
OFR HOSTS CONGRESSIONAL BRIEFING ON DOD-FUNDED RESEARCH AT DUKE
The Duke Office of Federal Relations hosted a Congressional briefing in the Capitol Visitors Center on Wednesday to showcase select Duke research funded by the Department of Defense. Wednesday's briefing, "Department of Defense Research at Duke: Innovative Solutions to Military and Societal Challenges," featured the research of professor David R. Smith and professor Peter Torionne.
A link to the briefing flyer is below and photos will be uploaded to the OFR Facebook Page soon.
OFR Congressional Briefing Flyer (pdf)
ASSOCIATIONS URGE NLRB TO COMPLY WITH COURT RULING ON FACULTY UNIONIZATION
The American Council on Education (ACE), acting on behalf of six higher education associations, submitted an amicus brief to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on July 6 regarding the Point Park University case. The case deals with the question of whether faculty members at private colleges and universities seeking union representation are employees covered by the National Labor Relations Act or are excluded as managers. In the case, faculty members at Pittsburgh-based Point Park University voted in favor of unionization but the university challenged the election. Following NLRB regional and federal court decisions, the full Board has decided to take up the case.
The ACE-led brief argues that rather than calling for amicus briefs from third parties, the NLRB should comply with the 2006 ruling of the D.C. Circuit Court without further delay. That decision remanded the case back to the Board to identify which of the factors set forth by the Supreme Court’s 1980 decision in NLRB v. Yeshiva University were most significant in deciding whether faculty members are statutory employees or managers. The brief argues that Yeshiva remains valid today: “Recent research studies and articles confirm that faculties still have influence over areas such as curriculum, the establishment of teaching standards, academic performance, and standards for promotion and tenure.”
The brief was filed on behalf of AAU, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the Council of Independent Colleges, the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania, and the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources.
Amicus Brief (ACEnet.edu)
AAU ASKS COMMITTEE LEADERS TO REJECT EXCESSIVE USDA REPORTING LANGUAGE
AAU sent a letter to the chair and ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee on July 11 expressing strong support for the competitive research funded by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) and opposing a provision in the draft 2012 Farm Bill (H.R. 6083) that would require extensive new reporting by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) on its current projects and requests for proposals. The Committee approved the bill on July 12 by a vote of 35 to 11, with no change in the problematic provision.
The provision, Section 7513, would require the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, where AFRI is based, to provide, as part of the President’s annual budget submission, details about upcoming requests for applications, as well as “a report containing a description of the agricultural research, extension, and education activities” carried out in the previous fiscal year. This would include an analysis of whether the work was duplicative of research conducted by other federal agencies, state entities, universities, or private industry.
AAU warned in its letter, “We are concerned that the reported information could be used to inject political or parochial pressures into the determination of areas of emphasis, thus reducing the capacity of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to support the most promising research and thereby impairing the quality of our national agricultural research program.”
The language is also contained in the Senate-passed version of the Farm Bill (Sec. 7512 of S. 3240). However, major differences between the House and Senate versions of the legislation are expected to make it difficult to reach a compromise. The result could be a short-term extension of the current authorization, which is set to expire on September 30th.
AAU Asks Committee Leaders to Reject Excessive USDA Reporting Language (pdf)
BROOKINGS REPORT ON H1-B VISAS
The Brookings Institute released yesterday its report, "The Search for Skills: Demand for H-1B Immigrant Workers in the U.S. Metropolitan Areas."
The analysis of the geography of H-1B visa requests — particularly in the metropolitan areas with the highest demand between 2001 and 2011 — reveals that demand for H-1B workers has fluctuated with economic and political cycles over the last decade and reflects a wide range of employers’ needs for high-skilled temporary workers.
An overview and links to the full report are available at the link below.
Study: Visa Law Prevents Companies From Hiring Best Workers (Marketplace.org)
The Search for Skills: Demand for H-1B Immigrant Workers in U.S. Metropolitan Areas (Brookings.edu)
DUKE LAW PROF TESTIFIES BEFORE SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE
Duke Law Professor Nita A. Farahany discussed the impact of new technology on civil liberties during testimony on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, July 18. Farahany testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, at a hearing titled “What Facial Recognition Technology Means for Privacy and Civil Liberties.”
Farahany Testifies Before Senate Subcommittee (law.duke.edu)
Hearing Information and Testimony (judiciary.senate.gov)
CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS ON COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY
Committees in both the House and Senate are held hearings this week on college affordability, focused on public institutions. The House hearing, on July 18, reviewed state government efforts to reduce costs and student debt burden through such means as comprehensive articulation agreements between two-year and four-year institutions and “pay for performance” programs.
The Senate hearing on July 19 addressed institutional practices and strategies for reducing student costs.
Subcommittee to Discuss State Initiatives to Reduce College Costs (edworkforce.house.gov)
Full Committee Hearing - Making College Affordability a Priority: Promising Practices and Strategies (help.senate.gov)
NEW REPORT SAYS PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS OF COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY ARE WORSE THAN REALITY
A new report from the Institute for Higher Education Policy says that for a variety of reasons and in spite of increasing enrollment rates, “most people do not question the idea that college is unaffordable.”
The report, “Is College Affordable? In Search of a Meaningful Definition,” says that rising college prices, stagnating incomes, and diminished asset values have led to the widespread view that college is “unaffordable” for more and more people. Contributing to these misperceptions is the fact that the public significantly overestimates the price of college and that tuition pricing and student aid systems are so complex that many people do not realize the extent to which the “net price” that many students pay is lower than the published price.
Among the observations in the report:
• Affordability is unavoidably subjective;
• In contrast to housing and health care, it is difficult for people to think of college as an investment that generates benefits over a longer period and can reasonably be paid for by installments over time;
• Although many students and families have very real difficulties paying for college, the perception of college affordability is often worse than the reality; and
• Postsecondary education is an investment with a high average rate of return, but it does not pay off equally well for all.
Among suggestions in the report:
• Pricing and financial aid systems should be simplified and made more transparent and predictable;
• Creative communication strategies are needed to give students and families a greater understanding of the monetary and non-monetary benefits of postsecondary education;
• Student loan programs should include adequate protections for those who are unable to repay their education debts; and
• Grant aid and subsidies provided through the tax code should be better targeted to disadvantaged students.
Is College Affordable? In Search of a Meaningful Definition (IHEP.org)