Minority-Owned Businesses Remained Resilient During Recession
WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today’s issue brief, Minority Business Ownership: Data from the 2012 Survey of Business Owners by Regulatory Economist Michael McManus, analyzes the data collected from minority business owners through the Census 2012 Survey of Business Owners. After taking a closer look at the five years enveloping the economic recession, McManus discovered that minority-owned businesses helped keep the US economy alive despite traditional setbacks.
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Kline Statement: Debate on H.R. 6094, the Regulatory Relief for Small Businesses, Schools, and Nonprofits Act
Unfortunately, the department took a different approach and finalized an extreme rule that will hurt those it’s supposed to help. As we have heard from witnesses at hearings and constituents back home, the rule will leave individuals with less flexibility at work and fewer opportunities to further their careers or pursue jobs they want or truly need. We have also learned that the rule will make college less affordable and make it more difficult for charitable organizations to serve people in need.
The purpose of the legislation we are considering today is to provide some relief—even if temporary—to those who will be harmed the most: men and women working hard to grow their own businesses and employees trying to provide a better life for their families; students pursuing the dream of a higher education; and countless Americans relying on nonprofits for help and support.
It took the Obama administration more than two years—or 27 months—to complete this rule, but they’ve given the American people just six months to make the difficult choices necessary to implement it. According to one report, 49 percent of small businesses aren’t even aware the new rule exists. Imagine how many schools and nonprofits are in the same position.
This legislation will give these men and women more time to implement the rule and help mitigate its impact on students, workers, and vulnerable individuals. But the clock is ticking. Important decisions about payroll and staffing have to be made and quickly. If we fail to act now, it may be too late.
I want to thank Representative Walberg for introducing this important legislation and for his continued leadership in championing efforts to responsibly update federal overtime rules.
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Walberg Statement: Debate on H.R. 6094, the Regulatory Relief for Small Businesses, Schools, and Nonprofits Act
It’s unfortunate this legislation is necessary in the first place. For over two years, Republicans have urged the department to update our nation’s overtime rules responsibly. These rules serve as important protections for America’s workers, but the existing regulatory structure is extremely outdated and complex.
The department should have used this opportunity to modernize overtime rules for the 21st century workforce. They should have listened to the countless small businesses owners, heads of nonprofit organizations, state and local leaders, and college and university administrators who warned that an extreme and partisan rule would lead to harmful consequences.
But the department failed to take a balanced approach, and refused to listen. Instead, they stuck by a Washington-knows-best mentality and finalized a rule that was exactly what so many hardworking men and women had feared. The rule doubles the salary threshold for overtime eligibility and requires further automatic increases every three years. And then to make matters worse, the department even kept in place the same-old regulatory maze that has existed for decades.
As the administration pats itself on the back and rushes to implement a rule in just a few short months, those who will face the real-world consequences are scrambling to meet the unrealistic December 1st deadline.
Ernie MacEwen, a South Rockwood small business owner in my district, said he already opted to hire one less employee this year in anticipation of the rule. He said he has heard from other small business owners who don’t even know the rule exists. Karen Richard, who owns Culver’s Restaurants in Ann Arbor and Jackson, is worried the rule will limit opportunities for the young people she employs.
Adrian College is trying to make tough decisions that could impact tuition and services for students, and the time crunch is making the process even more challenging. Bethany Christian Services in Grand Rapids is concerned the rule will undermine support for children in need.
These stories aren’t unique to Michigan. These are the types of stories that are unfolding across the country. And yet, the administration continues to quickly move toward the December 1st implementation date in total disregard for the challenges facing the small businesses, schools, and nonprofit organizations serving our communities.
The administration should abandon this rule before it limits opportunities for workers; hurts young people striving for an affordable education; burdens hardworking small business owners; and jeopardizes vital services for vulnerable Americans. It’s time to go back to the drawing board and work toward the balanced, responsible approach we’ve been fighting for from the start.
Time is running out. The administration and Members of Congress should do the right thing and provide more time to those struggling to implement this rule before an arbitrary and unrealistic deadline. I urge my colleagues to support this commonsense legislation, and to help deliver the relief small businesses, schools, and nonprofits in each and every one of our districts so desperately need.
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Strengthening retirement security has always been a difficult challenge with no easy answers. It’s one that demands thoughtful dialogue, bipartisan cooperation, and meaningful reforms. That’s exactly what our committee has been engaged in for several years now.
Since 2012, the committee has focused on examining and advancing bipartisan reforms to the multiemployer pension system. Over 10 million Americans rely on multiemployer pension plans. Unfortunately, many plans are severely underfunded due to an aging population, a weak economy, and fewer participating employers. To make matters worse, the federal agency insuring those plans—the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation or PBGC—is also headed for insolvency. As a result, workers, retirees, businesses, and taxpayers are at risk.
Fortunately, Congress has already taken action to help address this crisis. With the support of employers and labor leaders, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law important reforms to improve PBGC’s long-term stability, provide trustees with the tools they need to rescue failing plans, and prevent retirees from losing everything. These reforms represent significant progress, but there’s more work to be done.
Our focus now turns toward modernizing the multiemployer pension system for today’s workers and tomorrow’s retirees. A lot has changed since multiemployer pensions were developed decades ago. As union leaders, employers, and retiree and taxpayer advocates have expressed for years—it’s long past time to bring the system into the 21st century.
So, what does a modern multiemployer pension system look like? I hope we can dive deeper into this important question today. Before we begin, I’d like to explain a few guiding principles.
First and foremost, our goal is to strengthen retirement security. America’s workers deserve better than retirement plans based on empty promises and designed for yesterday’s workforce. In the 21st century, workers should have more retirement plan options that meet their needs.
While we take steps to modernize the system for the future, we must also protect workers and retirees in traditional multiemployer pension plans. We will continue to do everything possible to ensure those who have spent their lifetimes working hard and providing for their families can spend their retirement years with security and peace of mind. That means employers—even those who transition to modern retirement plans—should be required to sufficiently fund existing multiemployer pension commitments.
Second, a modern multiemployer pension system will improve the competitiveness of America’s businesses. In the 21st century, employers shouldn’t have to choose between growing their businesses or offering their employees secure and stable benefits. More flexibility through alternative plan options will empower employers to expand their businesses and create good-paying jobs—all while contributing toward their employees’ retirement.
Finally, we need to deliver greater protection for taxpayers. Unlike traditional defined benefit plans, these new multiemployer pension plans should not be covered by the PBGC. The last thing we need to do is to add more financial strain on an agency projected to go bankrupt in less than 10 years. And the last thing taxpayers need is to foot the bill for a multi-billion dollar bailout.
These are the overarching principles behind the discussion draft Chairman Kline recently released. His proposal would provide workers and employers a new retirement plan option known as “composite plans,” which combine the flexibility of 401(k)-style defined contribution plans with the lifetime income provided by defined benefit pension plans.
The draft proposal reflects input from employers, labor leaders, and retiree and taxpayer advocates. Still, we need more feedback. As its title suggests, this is a draft meant to spur a conversation. So, we want to hear from all of you and the broader public. How can we make this proposal best serve the interests of workers and employers?
We also welcome your views and ideas on reforms to improve PBGC’s fiscal health. Although we took steps to address PBGC’s shortfalls in 2014, more work is desperately needed, including further premium increases. The stakes couldn’t be higher: people’s retirement benefits—their livelihoods, their futures—are in jeopardy, and kicking the can down the road will only make the problem worse and unfairly threaten taxpayers with a bill they can’t afford.
We don’t always agree on everything. But I appreciate the bipartisan work this committee has done over the years to strengthen retirement security and tackle the challenges facing the multiemployer pension system. I hope we can continue what we started by advancing further reforms and modernizing the system for today’s workers and future generations.
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Rokita Statement: Hearing on “Supplanting the Law and Local Education Authority Through Regulatory Fiat"
The proposal I’m referring to is the department’s proposed “supplement, not supplant” regulation. This proposal changes the long-standing policy that federal funds supplement—rather than supplant—state and local resources. For years, the rule was applied differently depending on how many low-income students a school served. As a result, schools faced different requirements—some more onerous than others. That changed with the Every Student Succeeds Act—legislation that was passed with overwhelming support from both Republicans and Democrats.
Now, according to the law, the rule should be enforced equally across all schools. Districts only have to show that funds are distributed in a way that doesn’t take into account federal resources, and Congress deliberately chose not to prescribe a specific approach or outcome. The law also clearly prohibits the secretary of education from interfering in the process. However, that is exactly what this proposed rule would do, and the consequences will be significant.
As Chairman Kline explained when the regulation was proposed, it threatens to impose a multi-billion dollar regulatory tax on schools across the country. To comply with the policy, many school districts will have no choice but to change their hiring practices and relocate their teachers. Other communities may have to raise taxes because they simply don’t have the resources to meet this new burden. Some districts may have to do both.
Regardless of how a district must cope with the new regulation, the bottom line is that schools will be forced to make decisions based on getting the numbers to work—not on what’s best for their students—and the federal government will have unprecedented control over local education funding.
The department has said that its proposal will provide schools “flexibility,” but it really just dictates a short list of bad options. And, at the end of the day, it will be America’s poorest neighborhoods that are impacted most. That is the last thing Congress intended when it passed the Every Student Succeeds Act.
In fact, Congress considered similar reforms during debate of the legislation that focused on a separate provision, comparability. Instead, Congress specifically chose not to touch that provision and flat out rejected adopting a policy like the one the department is now trying to impose.
The department insists their “supplement, not supplant” proposal is not related to comparability, but even the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service has explained how this proposal is essentially an indirect way to amend the comparability provision. In short, this regulatory scheme is an attempt to accomplish something Congress specifically chose not to do. And anyone who was involved in passing the Every Student Succeeds Act knows that—whether they are willing to say so or not.
Still, even if the department were confused about the intent of the law, nothing excuses the fact that what it is proposing is simply unlawful. Again—as you can see in this language taken directly from the law—the Every Student Succeeds Act specifically prohibits the secretary from “prescribing the specific methodology a local education agency uses to allocate state and local funds to each school receiving assistance.” The department claims that is not what they’re doing, but with its limited list of options, it’s clear that is exactly what is happening. That’s why we have called on the department to throw this punitive policy out and to implement the law as it was written and intended.
For too long, our schools were forced to contend with a failed, top-down approach to education. That all changed with the Every Student Succeeds Act, but it seems the department hasn’t learned its lesson and is intent on undermining those important, bipartisan reforms. We will do everything in our power to ensure that doesn’t happen.
This hearing is part of our efforts to protect students, families, and taxpayers from this unprecedented and unlawful regulatory scheme—and just as importantly, to help every child receive an excellent education. The best chance we have to accomplish that critical goal is to ensure the Every Student Succeeds Act is implemented according to the letter and intent of the law.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today and how they see this proposal impacting their local communities and schools across the country.
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Curbelo Statement: Debate on H.R. 5963, the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act
Unfortunately, too many children don’t realize that success is even an option for them. Too many others believe their chance has passed or don’t know how to seize it. As a result, they make decisions that put them on the wrong path and—in some cases—in the juvenile justice system. These are the children this legislation will help.
H.R. 5963 includes a number of positive reforms, all aimed at improving services to keep at-risk youth out of the juvenile justice system and help juvenile offenders turn their lives around.
First, the bill’s reforms will set these children up for long-term success. They will help them gain the skills they need to become productive members of society or a second chance to reach their full potential. These reforms will also give state and local leaders the flexibility to meet specific and unique needs of vulnerable kids in their communities.
The legislation also prioritizes what works, focusing on evidence-based strategies that will help reduce juvenile delinquency. It will also give policymakers, state and local leaders, and service providers a better understanding of the best ways to serve kids across the country.
Finally, the bill improves oversight and accountability to ensure juvenile justice programs are delivering positive results for children and to protect the taxpayers’ investment in these important programs.
These are all commonsense measures that will reform the juvenile justice system and improve public safety. But more than that, they will provide opportunities for kids to build successful, fulfilling lives—especially for young men and women who never thought that kind of life was possible.
I was happy to partner with our ranking member, Bobby Scott, on this important piece of legislation, and I am proud of the work we have done together. Mr. Scott has long been a champion of this effort, and with this bipartisan effort, we have put forward a good bill that will help more children in this country achieve success in life.
I would also like to thank our colleagues in the Senate—especially Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse—for their leadership and hard work, as well as Chairman John Kline, Amy Jones, Leslie Tatum, and the rest of the Education and the Workforce Committee staff. They have all helped pave the way for the reforms in the bill before us today, and I look forward to working with them to complete this important effort.