From the Desk of Jennifer Daniels

December 11, 2017
As I begin my time at the USCCB, I just wanted to introduce myself. My name is Jennifer Daniels and I am so excited to follow in Greg Dolan's footsteps as Associate Director for Public Policy. I am originally from Texas, but moved to Washington, D.C. in 2004 to work on education policy on Capitol Hill.  I met Sister John Mary Fleming during my tenure as Director for Government Relations at the Archdiocese of Washington, working to re-authorize the DC Opportunity Scholarship Act and advocating for equitable services under ESSA.  After a few years at home with my three daughters, I can't wait to jump into education policy now at the national level where I will focus on school choice legislation and any federal policy affecting our Catholic Schools.

Update on Tax Reform Provisions
Christmas is around the corner, but there is some federal legislation that is almost as exciting as shopping! We are keeping a close eye on the Tax Reform Bill - recently passed out of both the House and the Senate.  The Chairman for the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop Frank Dewane, recently sent a letter to Congress as the Conference Committee works to reconcile the House and the Senate versions.  He highlighted four provisions that would greatly impact Catholic Schools.  -- click here to read the full letter, or check out the key points below:
  • Educator Expenses - The House and Senate legislation increase the above-the-line deduction for educator expenses from $250 to $500.  An increase in this area is a positive change. 

  • 529 Savings Plans - Both chambers also extend the benefits of 529 plans to K-12 education.  This is very a positive change.  The House bill also extends the plan to the child in utero, and allows up to an additional $10,000 to be set aside for school expenses.  These provisions should be adopted in the final bill.

  • Section 127 Exclusion for Education Assistance - Elimination of this exclusion would harm many K-12 schools, including Catholic schools, in hiring and retaining staff, as well as harm institutions that rely upon local businesses to assist lower-income students.  This exclusion should be retained.

  • Section 117 Qualified Tuition Reduction - Catholic elementary and secondary schools employ over 150,000 staff, and the exclusion for qualified tuition reductions is vital in retaining them. The overall budgetary impact is minimal, and the exclusion should be kept intact. 
Visit our USCCB Action Center and tell your congressmen about these provisions that will impact our schools, if you haven't already!

I Want to Hear From You
I look forward to speaking with you or meeting you over the next weeks and months.  Please feel free to call or email anytime.  It is so important to hear from practitioners and advocates outside of Washington so we can better serve you and your students!  
Have a Blessed Advent and Merry Christmas,
Jennifer Daniels
Associate Director for Public Policy
Secretariat of Catholic Education
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 Fourth Street, NE
Washington, DC  20017 
202-541-3148 (direct)
202-243-9081 (mobile)

USCCB Secretariat of Catholic Education  | 202-541-3148 |

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