BUDGET, APPROPRIATIONS, & TAX ISSUES
- House Approves Permanent Charitable Tax Provisions
- Senators Release Task Force Report on Streamlining Higher Education Regulations
- House Approves NASA Reauthorization Bill
- AAU, APLU Offer Guidelines for Developing Campus Economic Impact Reports
BUDGET, APPROPRIATIONS, & TAX ISSUES
HOUSE APPROVES PERMANENT CHARITABLE TAX PROVISIONS
The House on February 12 approved legislation to make permanent four charitable tax provisions, including the IRA charitable rollover. The provisions were approved as separate bills by the House Ways and Means Committee and then combined into one bill, the Fighting Hunger Incentive Act (H.R. 644).
The White House has issued a Statement of Administration Policy indicating that the President would veto the bill in part because it includes no budget offsets.
SENATORS RELEASE TASK FORCE REPORT ON STREAMLINING HIGHER EDUCATION REGULATIONS
Four members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee on February 12 announced release of a report they had commissioned which calls for streamlining the Department of Education’s regulation of colleges and universities and offers recommendations for doing so. Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN)—who was joined in convening the group by Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Richard Burr (R-NC), and Michael Bennet (D-CO)—announced that the committee would hold a hearing on the report February 24.
The report, Recalibrating Regulation of Colleges and Universities, was prepared by the Task Force on Federal Regulation of Higher Education, co-chaired by Vanderbilt University Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos and University of Maryland System Chancellor William Kirwan, with staffing support from the American Council on Education.
As described in the executive summary of the report, the Task Force “concluded that many rules are unnecessarily voluminous and too often ambiguous, and that the cost of compliance has become unreasonable.” The group found that “many regulations are unrelated to education, student safety, or stewardship of federal funds—and others can be a barrier to college access and innovation in education.”
The Task Force identified specific regulations of major concern to higher education institutions, including “problematic financial responsibility standards, confusion and inconsistency in reporting requirements for campus crime, overreach in authorization of distance education programs, inefficient rules concerning verification of financial aid eligibility, counterproductive micromanagement of the accreditation process, and policies that result in consumers being inundated with information of questionable value.” The panel also reviewed the processes by which higher education regulations are developed and implemented, and “offers several specific ideas for improvement.”
The four Senators formed the Task Force in November 2013 with the goal of conducting a bipartisan review of U.S. Department of Education regulations and reporting requirements that could inform the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.
AAU issued a statement in support of the Task Force report.
HOUSE APPROVES NASA REAUTHORIZATION BILL
The House of Representatives on February 10 approved the NASA Authorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 810) under suspension of the rules. The bill is virtually identical to the bipartisan bill that passed the House last year by a vote of 401-2 but failed to be considered in the Senate. As Space Policy Online notes about this year’s bill, "the sponsors of the act avoided tricky budget issues by authorizing funds only for the fiscal year that is already underway (2015) at the same levels that already were appropriated."
It remains uncertain if the Senate will consider the bill.
AAU, APLU OFFER GUIDELINES FOR DEVELOPING CAMPUS ECONOMIC IMPACT REPORTS
AAU and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) have published a report for universities that are focusing on telling how they contribute to economic development and advancing their economic engagement. This publication provides guidelines for measuring and reporting an institution’s’ economic impact. The report is based on an AAU-APLU workshop held May, 3, 2013.