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WASHINGTON, D.C. â€“ February 10, 2006 â€“ President Bush released his proposed $2.77 trillion budget for fiscal 2007. Unfortunately, just as he did last year, the President once again recommended the elimination of the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) by 2008. The 2007 budget proposes only $26.4 million for PEP, the amount needed to fund previously-awarded, multi-year PEP grants in 2007.
With great credit to the sporting goods industry’s advocacy efforts in 2005, Congress ignored the President’s recommendation during last year’s budget process and provided $73.4 million in PEP funding for FY 2006. (Due to a one percent across-the-board reduction in discretionary spending, the final funding figure was $72.7 million.)
SGMA again opposes the proposal to eliminate such a critical program for our nation’s youth.
President Tom Cove called for a national effort to demonstrate the significance of providing more access and opportunity for physical activity for our nation’s youth: â€œObesity and physical inactivity are at all time highs in our country. It has never been more critical to engage our youth in physical fitness and education. We know good physical education makes physical activity accessible and available throughout our school system and teaches our children how to live healthy, active lives; the PEP funds enable us to do this better than any other single program.â€
SGMA is encouraged by the continued support and recognition the PEP program has received in the U.S. House and Senate. The Department of Education (DOE) further validated the benefits and merit of PEP’s outreach. DOE is establishing new mechanisms for collecting accurate and reliable performance data from PEP grantees.
In response to the proposed elimination of PEP, SGMA encourages all industry representatives to collaborate in an advocacy outreach to Congress. National P.E. Day, the industry’s annual charge on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, will be May 3, 2006.
Cove reinforced the strength of the collective lobbying of SGMA members and PE4life supporters on National P.E. Day and beyond: â€œAt no other time has our industry been better positioned or represented to help our nation overcome a health crisis. PEP received full funding in 2006 specifically due to the efforts of our industry and SGMA member companies on National P.E. Day last year.â€
Cove stressed SGMA’s disappointment in yet another Administration recommendation to phase out this successful program. â€œPEP is critical in our nation’s efforts to reverse the obesity trend among America’s youth. The innovative physical education methods used in PEP provides thousands of children with the foundation needed to live healthier lives through regular exercise and fitness. SGMA remains committed to PEP. We will work with Congress and the Federal Government to ensure the program receives the funding it needs to promote fitness and exercise as essential components of healthy lifestyles.â€