Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04), a member of the House Committee on the Budget, released the following statement after President Barack Obama unveiled his $4 trillion budget proposal for fiscal year 2017.
“After seven long years under the Obama Administration, it should come as no surprise that the president’s final budget proposal reflects how out of touch he is with economic reality,” said Cole. “While the nation’s debt continues to climb at an alarming rate, the president ignored and missed yet another opportunity to recommend serious reforms to pay it down. Instead of choosing to lead America toward a path of fiscal responsibility, the president has again offered a wish list that taxes too much, spends too much and never ever, ever balances. This politically and philosophically unrealistic proposal, which adds nearly $7 trillion to the already high debt, stands absolutely no chance at becoming law—something the White House surely knows.
“As our nation’s once-thriving energy industry continues to struggle and face setbacks, I am especially alarmed that the president wants to make matters worse by placing a $10 tax on every barrel of crude oil. This ridiculous tax would certainly lead to many more valuable jobs lost and directly impact families and households across the entire country by increasing the cost of everything that every American purchases.
“Finally, while the proposals for curing cancer and combating opioid abuse are worthy goals, the president’s proposed methods are simply unacceptable budget gimmicks that irresponsibly rely on mandatory spending. Certainly, when lawmakers work together to confront these and other health concerns, we will do so within the constraints of the budget caps previously agreed to by Congress and the president,” concluded Cole.
Contact: Sarah Corley (202) 225-6165Read More
The Oklahoman - Chris Casteel
Rep. Tom Cole, an influential voice in spending on health and medical research, said President Barack Obama should come up with a way to pay for his new budget proposals, including one to expand treatment for people addicted to opioids.
Obama is planning to send his 2017 budget to Capitol Hill on Tuesday. And though the budget as a whole will get scant deliberation, some of his individual proposals may be considered.
Cole, R-Moore, heads the subcommittee that oversees spending at the Health and Human Services Department.
In the current budget, his panel boosted funding by $1 billion for the National Institutes of Health, some of it earmarked for Alzheimer's disease research; his subcommittee also increased spending by $300 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Obama last week proposed $1.1 billion in spending to fight the "epidemic" in abuse of heroin and prescription painkillers.
According to the White House:
•$920 million would support cooperative agreements with states to expand medication-assisted treatment for disorders related to opioid use. States could use the money "to expand treatment capacity and make services more affordable."
•Another $50 million would be channeled through the National Health Service Corps to expand access to treatment centers.
Cole said, "While I believe that this is a worthy goal to work toward, I am very concerned about how the president intends to pay for it.
"Unless the increased spending is offset with real reductions made elsewhere in the budget or through serious entitlement reform, I do not believe it can or should be viewed as a responsible proposal. While I think it is possible to work together to find solutions, it cannot and should not be achieved by increasing overall spending.”
Obama's budget also is expected to include $1.8 billion to fight the Zika virus spreading from South America. Cole's subcommittee likely will have jurisdiction over at least part of that proposal.
Online: The OklahomanRead More
Clearly, the threat posed by ISIS/ISIL in the Middle East isn’t diminishing and the need to do something to protect the United States and our friends abroad is more urgent than ever. Considering the escalating conflict in the area occupied by the terrorist group, attacks against our allies and direct threats surfacing in America, it is past time for thoughtful debate to take place, a clear strategy to be agreed upon and decisive action to be taken to destroy this barbaric enemy.
As you might recall, in response to the increasing boldness and rapidly spreading violence of ISIS, President Obama submitted a request to Congress for the authorization of the use of military force (AUMF) almost a year ago. While I have serious reservations about the strategy the president has pursued against ISIS, I do believe that lawmakers have the responsibility to engage in debate on what he proposed and make their own strategic recommendations for defeating this very dangerous foe. Moreover, Congress is the branch of government charged by the Constitution with war-making power. While the president serves as commander in chief and is responsible for offering a clear strategy for defending the United States when and wherever threats arise, any sustained military action must be authorized by both chambers of Congress before it is enacted.
So far, no such authorization of force has been brought up for debate and consideration in either chamber of Congress. I believe this not only undermines the constitutional responsibility of the legislative branch of government, but it raises questions about the commitment and perseverance of the United States in the war on terror to both our friends as well as our enemies. And certainly, in the wake of the ISIS-supported attacks that occurred in Paris last November and the tragic shooting in San Bernardino, I believe Congress has the responsibility and to duty to the American people to weigh in and act.
In response to this need for debate to begin in Congress, I recently introduced legislation in the House to defeat ISIS and its associated forces. As part of the AUMF I introduced, there would be no geographic restraints on the U.S. military, no expiration on the authorization, no prohibition on sending American ground forces if needed and no restrictions on the ability of the United States to disrupt online terrorist recruitment activities, propaganda or other communications.
I am under no illusions that the legislation I introduced is likely to be the final word, and I don’t necessarily think it should be the final word. But I do believe that it can and should serve to kick start the debate and discussion that Congress has a constitutional responsibility in which to engage. The past seven years have demonstrated that this president’s foreign policy has been one of appeasement, incompetence and weakness. As long as Congress remains silent on this issue, his will continue to be the lone voice speaking for America. We owe it to our fellow citizens, our men and women in uniform and our allies around the world to declare affirmatively, with one united voice, that the United States is singularly focused on wiping out the scourge of terrorism.Read More
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after he was named a recipient of the Teach For America Congressional Champion Award, which is given out only once every five years. Cole was one of 12 honored with the award during Teach For America’s 25th anniversary celebration this week.
“Without question, one of the greatest investments we can make in our young people is ensuring all students have access to a quality education and the tools they need to succeed,” said Congressman Cole. “The importance of that investment has always been foundational to Teach For America’s mission and continues to beat proudly in the hearts of its corps members and alumni spread out across the United States. As Teach For America marks 25 years of service to children in disadvantaged circumstances, I am honored to be recognized for my support of policies and programs—like Teach For America—that help those students achieve excellence.”
“Our Congressional champions have played an instrumental role in growing Teach For America’s impact in our first 25 years,” said Teach For America CEO Elisa Villanueva Beard. “Their support for critical funding and key policy provisions has helped expand educational opportunity for children growing up in poverty across the country and inspired thousands of individuals to join the fight for educational equity and excellence. I am thankful for leaders like Congressman Cole who are committed to ensuring that all children in this nation have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.”
Click here to download hi-res photos.
Contact:Sarah Corley (202) 226-6165 (Cole) Jamila Reeves (708) 997-0005 (Teach For America)Read More
Moore American - Caleb Slinkard
Rep. Tom Cole (OK-4) will focus on initiatives that can garner bipartisan support this legislative session as the Republican and Democrat parties buckle down for a presidential election.
Cole, of Moore, said he would work hard on issues like funding for biomedical research and civil justice reform while also focusing on stabilizing both the energy industry and the federal government in a nation that often seems to be on the brink of falling off a fiscal cliff or hitting a debt ceiling.
“Last year, for the first time in over a decade, we made a major commitment to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for Alzheimer’s research,” he said. “We spend billions a year to look after Alzheimer’s patients through medicare. We added $350 million in Alzheimer’s research, and this year we need to build on that.”
Cole said that, long-term, finding ways to improve lives and cure diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer will also lower the long-term cost of government. Reducing the national debt is another key for Cole, although he wants to make sure the U.S. military is properly funded.
“Seventy percent of our federal budget is made up of social security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest payments on the national debt,” he said. “So we can’t balance the budget without making changes. They need to be thoughtful, gradual changes, but we need to discuss all of the options available to use and work on reaching a major compromise.”
Cole pointed to the fact that Americans are living longer and longer as a reason to reform social security.
“People are getting more out of Medicare than they ever put into it,” he said. “That doesn’t mean you take it away, but Warren Buffett probably doesn’t need the same level of Medicare and Social Security assistance as a couple living near the poverty line.”
Cutting into the national debt is a priority, but so is a properly-funded military, according to Cole. While that funding benefits his district, whose two largest employers are Tinker Air Force Base and Fort Sill, it will also be necessary for maintaining national security.
“We’re going to need a robust military that can deal with more threat at once,” he said. “Radical Islamic terrorism is our most immediate threat, and that’s going to be a generational struggle. Traditional powers with serious military capabilities like Russia and China are being much more assertive. And we must be able to deter regional powers like North Korea and Iraq.”
American allies like the UK, France and Germany will also need to step up their military support, Cole said.
“It’s not like the Cold War, where you just had to take care of Russia and everything else fell into line,” he said. “Now it’s traditional states, smaller actors and terrorist movements. The American people are going to have to commit to sustaining a military as they haven’t had to do since the end of the Cold War.”
Of course, a lot of national attention will be focused on the presidential election. Cole said this year’s election is a historic one with a deep Republican field.
“I don’t know anyone who would have told you a year ago that Donald Trump would be running, or would be in first place is some national polls,” he said. “People who are trailing badly now, like Jeb Bush or John Kasich, would have been dominant candidates in 2012. Part of it is the Republican Party redefining who it is and what it stands for, and that’s one of the reasons it is such an unpredictable process right now.”
Cole added that if Americans can’t find someone they like out of this crowded field, they’re not ever going to find a politician they like.
“Pick someone you like, and get involved,” he said. “In the general election, I don’t think it is going to be a blowout for either side. These elections are usually pretty close, and I think we’ll see that again this year.”
Online: Moore AmericanRead More
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after he supported H.R. 3662, the Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act. In response to the president’s implementation of the Iran nuclear agreement, the legislation passed yesterday prevents Iranian individuals and groups supportive of terrorism and the regime’s ballistic program from getting sanctions relief.
“This is a common sense piece of legislation that safeguards the United States and our allies around the world by preventing money from reaching the hands of terrorists,” said Cole. “Considering that Secretary of State John Kerry has acknowledged that sanctions relief outlined by the Iran nuclear agreement will likely benefit terrorist groups, this bill is a necessary check on the Administration’s misguided foreign policy decisions.
“I am particularly pleased that Oklahoma’s Fifth District Congressman Steve Russell led this important effort. Keeping Americans safe and defeating terrorism are subjects that he understands better than anyone else in Congress,” concluded Cole.
Contact: Sarah Corley (202) 225-6165Read More
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after he voted to override the president’s veto of legislation to repeal Obamacare and withhold funds from abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.
“Republicans have long agreed with the majority of the American people that Obamacare does much more harm than good,” said Cole. “The president’s law not only damages the economy, but it punishes more Americans than helps through higher premiums, lost coverage and unfair mandates. While it comes as no surprise that the president vetoed the legislation to repeal Obamacare and withhold public funding for abortion providers, this vote in the House shows that lawmakers will continue to fight for the conservative priorities held by their constituents.”
Contact: Sarah Corley (202) 225-6165Read More
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee; U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, today released the following statements about Fort Sill’s announcement regarding the vital role Fort Sill will continue to play as the Army plans for its future force structure:
“I applaud Major General Rossi and the leadership of Fort Sill for taking steps now to identify and mitigate any impacts of force structure changes to the mission at Fort Sill,” said Inhofe. “Chief of Staff of the Army General Milley’s top priority is readiness of the force, and Fort Sill plays a critical role in achieving this necessary military readiness by ensuring our Army and its soldiers are trained and equipped to fight and defend this country. The importance of Fort Sill’s mission, coupled with unparalleled community and state support, has resulted in continued growth. However, the president’s irresponsible defense budgets over the past seven years have forced each of the services, especially the Army, to reduce force structure to an unacceptable and unsustainable level. The president’s disarming of America has left us with a military too small that the threats we face are outpacing our ability to deter and confront them. Until we can reverse this trend under a new administration, I am committed to working closely together with military leaders and my colleges to ensure any force structures changes do not impact our mission, our soldiers, civilians and their families.”
“Our nation faces very serious world-wide security threats, and it’s more important than ever to have an Army that is resourced and trained to defeat these global dangers,” said Lankford. “I’ve expressed these concerns directly to the Secretary of Defense just last month. I’m thankful that the reductions at Ft. Sill are less than at other bases, but even more thankful for the Ft. Sill leadership that will ensure these reductions do not impact the readiness of our soldiers. There is no better partner for the Army than the men and women in Oklahoma. I will continue to work with the Army to ensure our soldiers are properly resourced and trained to meet our national security requirements, especially at Ft. Sill.”
“Due to budget demands placed on the Department of Defense, the Army has made necessary adjustments to both civilian and military billets at posts across the United States,” said Cole. "While Fort Sill has been fortunate that the changes are minor, in comparison with other installations, adapting to any change is difficult. I am confident that Fort Sill will continue to find the best solutions despite budget challenges, and I will work to ensure it has the resources needed to complete its mission. I continue to believe our military’s end strength is too low, and not reflective of the global reality or potential for conflict.”
Maj. Gen. John Rossi, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general, announced that Fort Sill received guidance for Fiscal Year 2016 to help shape the Army force structure over the next five to ten years. Maj. Gen. Rossi and his staff have begun to analyzed and define options on how to meet Army force structure changes at Fort Sill to include the possibility of various post agencies having to limit the number of authorizations, or positions, in their organizations. By taking these steps now, Fort Sill will be able to mitigate impacts Fort Sill personnel - military and civilian - and its mission.
Fort Sill’s offices, directorates, units, and agencies answer to larger major commands like Army Installation and Management Command, Army Materiel Command, Training and Doctrine Command, Forces Command, Army Medical Command and the Network Enterprise Technology Command, all major subordinate commands of the Army overall. Army direction to these commands ultimately has an impact across the Army, to include Ft Sill.
Fort Sill continues to grow as a result of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure, becoming the new home to the Air Defense Artillery School, the 30th Air Defense Artillery Brigade and the 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade. The most recent Army reorganization decision added two FORSCOM battalions, the 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery and the 5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery. These two battalions will bring about 800 soldiers and their families, which could bring the total to about 1,600 new people, to the Lawton-Fort Sill community over the next two years. The first new battalion is expected to arrive this summer and the second battalion will arrive in the second half of 2017.
Contact: Donelle Harder (202) 224-4721 (Inhofe) Darrell Jordan (202) 224-5754 (Lankford)Sarah Corley (202) 225-6165 (Cole)Read More
The Oklahoman - Chris Casteel
Fort Sill, the U.S. Army artillery post in southwest Oklahoma, is expected to trim civilian jobs and some military positions but still have a net gain of more than 400 active-duty military personnel by the end of next year.
Top officials at the post said Tuesday they were developing restructuring plans but declined to address specifics about personnel changes.
However, Capitol Hill offices, citing Pentagon estimates, said Fort Sill would lose roughly 290 civilian jobs and 116 military positions in some areas but gain 834 active-duty military personnel for artillery missions.
The changes — which incorporate civilian and military cuts announced in 2015 — are expected to be carried out in the next two federal budget years.
The post has about 10,000 active-duty, National Guard and Reserve positions and 5,000 civilians. It got a huge boost from the 2005 base closing and realignment round when it gained the Air Defense Artillery school and an ADA unit from a Texas post.
In a news release, Fort Sill officials said the post hospital might become a health clinic this year, handling outpatient visits only and requiring more appointments at private physicians.
Col. Kenneth Lemons, commander of the hospital, said, "We'll be laser-focused on our primary care and outpatient services.
Patients will still have the normal primary care services, specialty outpatient services and prescriptions.”
And the Army command that includes Fort Sill recently told the post to cut one of its three brigade headquarters.
Post leaders have proposed splitting oversight of the fort's basic training brigade between the two remaining brigade headquarters.
The change will not affect the number of incoming trainees.
The Army and Fort Sill still are analyzing various options, according to the post news release.
“If our analysis results in a decision to modify or eliminate positions at Fort Sill, we will try to mitigate the loss,” said Col. Glenn Waters, Fort Sill Garrison commander. “We will work to place employees into other positions across post, and we expect authorizations will be opened as current employees retire or leave their positions.”
Officials said they previously have been able to find other jobs for civilian personnel to keep from laying off workers.
Oklahoma lawmakers praised post leaders for planning ahead.
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, said training at Fort Sill is critical to the Army's readiness to fight wars.
“The importance of Fort Sill's mission, coupled with unparalleled community and state support, has resulted in continued growth,” he said.
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, whose district includes Fort Sill, said, “Due to budget demands placed on the Department of Defense, the Army has made necessary adjustments to both civilian and military billets at posts across the United States.
“While Fort Sill has been fortunate that the changes are minor, in comparison with other installations, adapting to any change is difficult. I am confident that Fort Sill will continue to find the best solutions despite budget challenges, and I will work to ensure it has the resources needed to complete its mission.”
Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, said, “I'm thankful that the reductions at Fort Sill are less than at other bases, but even more thankful for the Fort Sill leadership that will ensure these reductions do not impact the readiness of our soldiers.”
Online: The OklahomanRead More
After seven long years, the damaging consequences of President Obama’s liberal agenda and policies become even more glaring by the day. Instead of confronting the serious challenges that desperately needed his attention, leadership and willingness to work with the legislative branch after he took the oath of office, the president has chosen throughout the entirety of his administration to ignore some of the most pressing issues facing the American people. As a result of his misguided priorities, President Obama has greatly complicated the solutions required to get the country back on track.
One of the issues that has been mishandled by President Obama is the nation’s massive debt and the dangerous rate at which it continues to grow. Despite claims to the contrary, the president has consistently shown that he is more interested in advancing policies (like Obamacare) that add to the debt—instead of coming up with reforms to pay it down and slow the rate at which it is growing. He’s even taken credit for shrinking deficits, resulting from Republican-led reforms to cut discretionary spending. However, the days of declining deficits are numbered.
It is important to keep in mind that “deficit” is not the same as “debt.” While the terms are closely related, the annual deficit accounts for the difference between that year’s revenues and expenses. When the nation runs a deficit, it means that expenses are greater than the revenues available to cover those expenses. While smaller deficits mean less is added to our total debt, a deficit of any size still means more debt since the nation’s total debt is equal to deficits accumulated year after year.
Last month, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its economic outlook for the next 10 years. If current policies are unchanged, CBO projected that national debt would reach $23.8 trillion by 2026. But more immediately this year, CBO revealed that, for the first time since 2009, the deficit will rise. This upturn is due to higher interest payments on our growing debt and a rise in entitlement spending—for Social Security and Medicare programs—with the first wave of the “baby boomer” generation currently beginning to retire. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, baby boomers are defined as individuals between the age of 51 and 70 in 2016, so unless changes are made to entitlement programs, our deficits and our debt will continue to rise at an unsustainable rate.
Based on the expected year-end deficit for 2016, CBO further projected that total debt held by the public will reach 76 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), which is “higher than it has been since the years immediately following World War II.” A troubling frame of reference from 2008, this same statistic was dramatically lower with total debt equal to approximately 39 percent of GDP.
Even more recently, the Bureau of Economic Analysis added to the chorus of disappointing economic reports just last week. Its analysis of GDP during the fourth quarter of 2015 revealed that the U.S. economy grew by less than one percent—a noticeable and unexpected decline from the previous quarter. While there are plenty of contributing factors for this lackluster growth, I believe that it reflects the declining confidence of Americans in their economic future and their concern over the president’s unwillingness to recommend lasting reforms.
Despite the president’s failure to confront the real drivers of our debt, I remain confident that responsible, conservative leaders in Congress will continue to lead by proposing solutions for balancing the budget and paying down the debt. Until we make the tough decisions about entitlement spending and implement lasting reforms, our country will continue to drown in debt and our economic recovery will be halting and lackluster.Read More
2458 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Currently serving in his seventh term, Tom Cole was elected to Congress in 2002. Identified by Time Magazine as “one of the sharpest minds in the House,” Cole is an advocate for a strong national defense, a tireless advocate for taxpayers and small businesses, and a leader on issues dealing with Native Americans and tribal governments. Cole was named as one of the “Five Freshmen to Watch” by Roll Call at the outset of his congressional career.
Since 2009, Cole has served on the powerfulHouse Appropriations Committee, where he is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Education); he is also assigned to the Subcommittees on Defense and Interior.
For the third consecutive Congress, Cole was reappointed to the House Budget Committee in 2015 as one of the three members of the majority party who also sits on the Appropriations Committee. He is currently considered the Senior Appropriator on the panel.
In 2013, Cole was appointed to serve on the House Rules Committee. In addition, Congressman Cole serves as a Deputy Whip for the Republican Conference and is a member of the Republican Steering Committee.
In October 2013, he was appointed by Speaker Boehner and Budget Chairman Paul Ryan to serve as one of four House Republicans on a House-Senate joint budget conference committee that negotiated a bipartisan budget deal for fiscal years 2014 and 2015.
Tom Cole has a significant background of service to his home state of Oklahoma. He has served as the State Chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, District Director to former Congressman Mickey Edwards, a member of the Oklahoma State Senate and as Oklahoma’s Secretary of State. In this capacity he served as former Governor Frank Keating’s chief legislative strategist and liaison to the state’s federal delegation. Keating tapped Cole to lead Oklahoma’s successful effort to secure federal funds to assist in the rebuilding of Oklahoma City in the wake of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19,1995.
Cole is widely regarded as one of the GOP’s top political strategists. He served as Executive Director of the National Republican Congressional Committee in the 1992 cycle. He also served as the Chief of Staff of the Republican National Committee during the historic 2000 cycle in which Republicans won the presidency, the Senate and the House for the first time in 48 years. In the 2008 cycle, Cole served as Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Cole is a founding partner and past president of CHS & Associates, a nationally recognized political consulting and survey research firm based in Oklahoma City. The firm has been named one of the top 20 in its field and has literally dozens of past and current clients scattered across the country.
A former college instructor in history and politics, Cole holds a B.A. from Grinnell College, an M.A. from Yale University and a Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma. Cole has been a Thomas Watson Fellow and a Fulbright Fellow at the University of London. He serves on the Smithsonian Institution Board of Regents, as well as the national board of the Fulbright Association. He is also a member of the Congressional Advisory Board to the Aspen Institute.
Tom Cole is a fifth generation Oklahoman and an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation. He is currently one of the only Native Americans serving in Congress. He was awarded the Congressional Leadership award by the National Congress of American Indians in 2007 and 2011 and was inducted in the Chickasaw Hall of Fame in 2004. Cole’s late mother, Helen, is also a member of the Chickasaw Hall of Fame and served as a state representative, state senator and the Mayor of Moore in her native state of Oklahoma. Cole’s late father, John, served 20 years in the United States Air Force and worked an additional two decades as a civilian federal employee at Tinker Air Force Base.
Tom and his wife, Ellen, have one son, Mason, and reside in Moore, Oklahoma.
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The president has again offered a budget wish list that taxes too much, spends too much & never ever, EVER balances. https://t.co/b3VFSuLWwp
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Discussed legislation I introduced to encourage critical debate in Congress on a strategy to defeat ISIS: https://t.co/EQ1MxkEdbp
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After seven long years under the Obama Administration, it should come as no surprise that the president’s final budget proposal (released today)
In my column this week, I talked about legislation that I recently introduced in the House to encourage debate and discussion in Congress on
ICYMI: Earlier this week the House passed the Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act. It's a common sense piece of legislation that safeguards
Pleased to meet with the National Council of Higher Education Resources earlier this week. We had a productive discussion about advancing financial
Enjoyed discussing the benefits of public charter schools with Nina Rees and Gina Mahony from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools