It’s a new year and there’s a new administration coming to Washington. I’ve been hearing a lot of questions about how this may impact the E-rate. President-elect Obama has stated that an economic stimulus plan will be his first priority as soon as he is sworn in. However, the details are still in flux and have not been made public. Obama has stated that infrastructure projects and school modernization funding will be included and has been on the record of supporting the E-rate program. (As a reminder, the E-rate program is not part of the annual appropriations process and thus not a part of the federal budget. In 1996 Congress expanded the Universal Service Program to include schools and libraries which the telecommunications companies support.)
Fortunately, the E-rate funding cap is set at $2.25 billion per year and it doesn’t fluctuate. Therefore, even if the new Congress and President Obama ignore the E-rate entirely, the program will at least continue as-is for the foreseeable future – that’s good news for budget-crunched schools and libraries.