With the dust still settling from the 2018 midterm elections, and several House and Senate races remain too close to call, there are a few conclusions to be made amidst the remaining uncertainty. At the beginning of Tuesday, all 435 House seats were up for grabs along with 35 of the 100 Senate seats and 36 state governorships. By midnight Tuesday night, it was clear the Democrats would flip the House of Representatives and the Republicans would remain in control of the Senate resulting in a new period (at least for the next two years) of divided government.
While afterschool and summer learning programs are largely funded by parent fees, the public funding at the local, state, and federal level is critical. Therefore, the 2018 election will have an impact on existing programs and the prospect of additional support for programs. Afterschool was an issue in many campaigns, including the Attorney General race in Illinois; the Governor’s race in Wisconsin, California, and Tennessee; and the Senate race in Pennsylvania.
Here are a few first impressions on what the results may mean for afterschool.
House of Representatives
The U.S. will have a new speaker of the House, likely current Democratic Leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), as Democrats had a net gain of at least 27 seats as of Wednesday morning, Nov. 7. The change in majority in the House for the 116th Congress beginning in January will mean new chairs for all House Committees including new positions for afterschool champions Reps. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Bobby Scott (D-Va.) who will likely take over the House Appropriations and House Education Committees respectively. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the member most responsible for recent increases in afterschool funding, will become Chair of the appropriations subcommittee that determines funding for afterschool. And afterschool champion and Afterschool Alliance Board Member Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) will likely remain in the leadership of the House.
Newly elected Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) – one of the first Muslims and Somali-Americans to be elected to Congress – served as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Afterschool Alliance in Minnesota from 2012 to 2013 prior to entering a career in politics. The incoming class of Representatives also includes Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.), the 2016 National Teacher of the Year who will represent Connecticut's 5th district as the first African-American woman from the state to serve in Congress. Omar and Hayes are two of the projected 96 women who won House races, with 31 women newly elected to the House and 65 female incumbents.
Republican afterschool champion Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) lost his bid for Senate in Pennsylvania and will not return to the House in the 116th Congress losing to another afterschool champion, Sen. Bob Casey (R-Pa.). The afterschool community will need to identify a new Republican House member to help fill his shoes in our ongoing bipartisan efforts to increase funding for the program.
Democrats are still laying out priorities for the 116th Congress, including increased transparency and accountability for the Executive Branch, as well as a focus on infrastructure and healthcare. With regard to education, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) as the assumed new chair of the renamed House Committee on Education and Labor, will most likely focus on passage of his Rebuild America's Schools Act, H.R. 2475 (115). The bill would create a $70 billion grant program and $30 billion tax credit bond program designed to improve school buildings in high-poverty schools. It would also create a national database on the condition of public school facilities. Additional potential priorities for the Education Committee include rigorous oversight of the Department of Education, including the repeal of most Obama Administration guidance, as well as ESSA implementation with a particular focus on state plans that do not pay enough attention to underserved students; Higher Education Act reauthorization, and possible movement on the Child Care for Working Families Act H.R. 3773 (115) which would create a federal-state partnership that aims to ensure that families making less than 150 percent of their state's median income do not pay more than 7 percent of their income on child care.
In the Senate, Republicans maintained control with a net gain of two seats as of early Wednesday. Senate Afterschool Caucus members who won’t return for the 116th Congress include Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.). Overall, it’s likely the Senate priorities will remain similar to those laid out by Majority Leader McConnell (R-Ky.): possible consideration of a new middle class tax cut, addressing immigration reform, infrastructure, budget deficits, and continued judicial appointments. Sen. Murkowski (R-Alaska), the Republican Chair of the Senate Afterschool Caucus, was not up for re-election and Senator Smith (D-Minn.), the Democratic Chair, was elected to the Senate for the remainder of the term she was appointed to after former Sen. Al Franken’s resignation.
At this point in time, seven states appear to have changed control in the governor’s mansion. Thirty-six governors starting new terms brings opportunities to shape state agendas that will be in place for the next four years. Governors’ priorities that relate to afterschool range from substance abuse prevention and response, to workforce development, to child care access and more. Incoming elected governors Tony Evers (D-Wis.) and Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) made afterschool a priority in their education agendas and Rep. Tim Walz has been a supporter of 21st Century Community Learning Centers throughout his time in Congress before winning his race to become the next governor of Minnesota. Additionally, Kansas elected a new Governor in Democrat Laura Kelly, giving them a new executive with a history of supporting afterschool. Governor-elect Kelly was instrumental in establishing the state’s first afterschool funding stream. Increased funding for K-12 education, teacher salaries, and higher education access and affordability also made headlines in state races and the impact of those decisions are yet to be unraveled.
Changes in governors, as well as shifts in party control at the state level, will lead to six new state trifectas, where one party will control the Governorship and both houses of the state legislature. Democrats netted five trifectas (New York, Colorado, Maine, New Mexico, Illinois, Nevada) and Republicans gained one (Alaska). In New York, Democratic gains will likely mean a greater focus on increasing education funding from the new Senate majority, providing opportunities to continue to expand access to afterschool and summer programs in the state.
Outside of legislative and gubernatorial races in the states, a ballot measure to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana was approved by voters in Michigan, paving the way for the establishment of a new revenue stream projected to bring in between $112 million and $275 million annually to the state. The new revenue will be dispersed between municipalities and school aid, providing an opportunity to expand availability of afterschool programming in communities throughout Michigan.
For more information on state legislative races, check out the National Conference of State Legislatures blog post here.
Post-election follow up
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