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December 2017


Tax Reform Update


In November, the House passed its tax reform bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1), by a vote of 227 to 205. No Democrats voted for the bill. Only 13 Republicans (from high-tax states like New York, New Jersey and California) voted against it. 


The Senate marked up its version of the tax reform bill before the Thanksgiving recess. The full Senate debated the bill last week and passed it on Dec. 2. The final vote was 51-49, with all Democrats and one Republican Senator, Bob Corker (R-TN), voting against it. 


Generally, both the House and Senate tax reform bills lower individual and corporate tax rates and set a new rate for so-called “pass-through” businesses that pay taxes at the individual rate. To pay for the rate cuts, the bill eliminated several tax deductions and credits.


The Senate bill has some substantial differences from the House-passed tax reform bill that will have to be resolved in a conference committee between the two chambers. The House and Senate appointed their conferees to the tax bill this week. Because of the Republicans’ narrow majority in the Senate, we expect the final version of the tax bill to be closer to the Senate bill than the House bill when negotiations are completed.


One of the key differences in the two versions of the bill is that the Senate bill repeals the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual health insurance mandate. The House, which has repeatedly voted to repeal the ACA, is expected to agree to the Senate provision on this.


Other highlights of the two bills include:


  • Both the House and Senate bills maintain the deduction for charitable contributions and increase the limit on cash contributions to qualified organizations from 50% to 60% of taxable income. However, both bills increase the standard deduction for individuals, which will likely have a negative impact on charitable giving since fewer taxpayers are expected to itemize their taxes. The Senate bill increases the standard deduction to $12,000 for single filers to $24,000 for joint filers, which is slightly less than the House version of $12,700 for single filers and $24,400 for joint filers. 


  • Both the House and Senate bills retain the Adoption Tax Credit, which provides up to $13,570 in tax savings per adopted child under current law.  However, the House bill repeals the exclusion from income for employer-provided adoption assistance.


  • The Senate bill makes no changes to the “Johnson Amendment,” which bars political campaign activity by churches and other 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations.  However, the House bill repeals the Johnson Amendment for churches and related auxiliaries, starting in 2019. The provision would sunset in 2023.


The conferees will begin negotiations later this week on a final tax bill, which Republicans expect to approve before the end of the year. Compromises will be made in the conference committee. However, the final bill is expected to be closer to the Senate version since they can only afford to lose 2 Republican Senate votes and still pass the bill. 


As you may have seen, there has been a number of reports about the potential impact of federal Pay-as You-Go-Act (PAYGO) rules and the tax reform bill.  In simple terms, PAYGO rules require that any legislation that adds to the federal deficit must be paid for with spending cuts, revenue increases or other offsets. If the tax bill currently being debated in Congress adds to the deficit, Congress would need to take action to waive the PAYGO rules in order to avoid triggering automatic cuts to certain mandatory spending accounts, such as the Crime Victims Fund (including Victims of Crime Acts, or VOCA, funding), Medicare, Social Services Block Grant and others. 


PAYGO rules can be waived through legislation and have been in the past for other tax cuts. Options include adding a provision to the tax bill itself, passing a separate bill to exempt the tax bill from PAYGO scoring, or adding the waiver to another bill moving through Congress.  Concerns have been raised that Congress may not agree to address the PAYGO issue, which would then result in automatic cuts to these critical programs. While the resolution may require bipartisan support, there is no indication from either Congressional Republicans or Democrats that this is going to be an issue. While the tax bill will pass with only Republican support, Democrats will work with them to address the PAYGO issue and prevent drastic cuts to mandatory programs. 



March 2018 Conference

Early registration is now open for the March 2018 National CASA conference in Boston.This month’s CASA/GAL News will have the latest on the program. Meanwhile, we have refined the schedule for Friday March 9 and Saturday March 10: 

  • A two-day Pre-Service Training of Facilitators (TOF) workshop will be offered from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday. The session is by invitation only. If you are interested in attending, please email

  • On Saturday March 10, training for new state directors and directors of developing states will occur from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., followed by separate workshops on a highly effective state program and highly effective local programs from 3-5 p.m. There also will be council and committee meetings on Saturday from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m.


Targeted communications will go out to various groups in the weeks ahead.


We hope to see you in Boston. Bookmark the conference site and register now if you haven’t already!



2018 State Professional Development Grants Opportunity

National CASA is excited to offer the Professional Development Grant opportunity for another year to state board chairs/governing body leads to participate in the upcoming 2018 National CASA/GAL Conference in Boston.

Grants for up to $2,000 are available to allow the governing representative to attend special sessions with Bill Collins, National CASA Board of Trustees Chair, BoardSource, nationally renowned for focusing on leadership and governance in the non-profit sector, and National CASA staff. 


All states are eligible to apply for 2018 Professional Development grants.


Applications are scheduled to be sent to all state organizations on Dec. 15, with a Jan. 5, 2018 deadline for submission. (Note: Early bird registration for the conference ends January 12, 2018). 


Please direct any questions or regarding the Professional Development grant application and/or submission to


2018 Governance Excellence Initiative Opportunity

Consistent with the goal to build a strong and sustainable national network and recognizing the importance of governance effectiveness in that effort, National CASA will launch a 2nd year of the Governance Excellence Initiative. This initiative affords state boards and governing bodies the opportunity to have one on one engagement with BoardSource. This application process will be available in the beginning of 2018. Only those states that are not currently participating in the initiative will be eligible to apply.


Questions regarding the initiative should be directed to


Announcing State Grant Awards

National CASA launched the 2017-18 state grant opportunities with up to $2 million in Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) available for Growth, Capacity-building and Development categories of funding.


Applications were received from twenty-six (26) states and as a result of the review and funding recommendations process, 23 states were selected for award:

  • One growth

  • Eleven capacity-building

  • Eleven development grantees 

National CASA also set aside funding for five states in which re-development efforts are necessary in 2018. The awards and redevelopment set-aside to date total $1,761,500 with remaining funding available for states for the Leadership Development and the Governance Initiative components for the Capacity-building category anticipated to be made available in early 2018.    



People News

Beth Dessem, State Director of Missouri, will be retiring after 15 years of service. Beth’s last day is Dec. 15. Nancy Molever, State Coordinator for Arizona CASA, retired on Dec. 8. Nancy had been with since 2014. Thank you, Beth and Nancy, for your love and dedication to volunteers, staff, children and families. Your commitment to the National CASA/GAL network is greatly appreciated.


Please join us in welcoming Rene’e Hampton in her new as the Director of the South Carolina Cass Elias McCarter Guardian ad Litem Program. Rene’e began her tenure with the South Carolina Cass Elias McCarter Guardian ad Litem Program in 2013. Prior to this, she served as the Regional Director of the Midlands Regions within the Department of Administration’s Continuum of Care Program. In this capacity, Ms. Hampton served in the dual role of Regional Director and Clinical Consultant for the severely emotionally disturbed children and adolescents of the Midlands Region. Rene’e has garnered numerous accolades over the past 22 years of state government service. She brings the heartfelt joy she experiences as that of servant to the citizens of the State of South Carolina. Congratulations and welcome Rene’e Hampton.



Meeting Dates

The State Leadership Council will meet on Dec. 20.


The reoccurring State Directors’ Meeting will shift in 2018. The meetings will be from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Pacific time on third Wednesdays. Here's a calendar with the dates.




State Leadership Council (SLC) Applications

A reminder that applications are due by Dec. 18 from state directors and representatives interested in serving on the State Leadership Council from January, 2018 through December, 2019. Nine members will be appointed. Three members of the State Leadership Council will serve on the National Leadership Council, the network advisory council to the National CASA Board of Trustees. 

Appointments are made by the President of the National CASA Board of Trustees. Please contact Blondean Jones at right away for the SLC overview and application form, which is due no later than Dec. 18.



Be Sure to Read the December CASA/GAL News, With Articles to Include: 
  • 2018 Conference Program, Awards of Excellence Nominations Deadline

  • List of Local Program Grant Awardees

  • New Comment Period Open for State Standards and Core Model

  • 2018 Membership Certificate Plans

  • When to Expect the Network Satisfaction Survey 

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