NSC urges House to reject Ryan budget.

March 29, 2012

On March 27, National Skills Coalition sent a letter to members of key House committees and leadership offices, urging them to reject the Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 budget resolution introduced earlier this month by House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). The House is expected to vote on the resolution as early as today.

The Ryan budget would cap overall discretionary spending in FY 2013 at $1.028 trillion, roughly $20 billion below the discretionary limits agreed to as part of last summer’s Budget Control Act (BCA). According to tables included in the resolution, roughly $16.4 billion in proposed cuts would come from education, training, employment, and social services programs.

While the budget resolution itself does not make programmatic cuts or policy changes, it does send important signals to authorizing committees and appropriators about ways to achieve savings. For example, in the committee report accompanying the resolution, Ryan suggests that “all congressional committees with jurisdiction over job training programs should look to consolidate as many administrative structures as possible to eliminate duplication and maximize taxpayer funds by focusing them on the most effective means of delivering job training activities.” Ryan indirectly references the “Streamlining Workforce Development Programs Act” introduced late last year by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) — which would consolidate 33 existing training and employment programs into four state formula grants — as legislation that would satisfy this goal.

The committee report also includes detailed recommendations for reducing access to Pell Grants in order to cut funding for the program, including:

  • Rolling back income protection allowances – which allow individuals to set aside a basic amount of annual income to cover living expenses for themselves and their families while attending school — and the income levels for the “automatic zero expected family contribution,” which is the income level at which a student automatically qualifies for the maximum Pell award;
  • eliminating eligibility for less-than-half-time students; and
  • effectively capping the maximum award level at the current $5,550, and repealing mandatory funding for Pell that has been used to support increases in the maximum award in recent years. 

The Ryan budget also suggests that the popular Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grants be converted from mandatory funding — automatic funding that does not require an annual appropriation — to discretionary funding, which in the current fiscal climate would likely lead to massive cuts or outright elimination of these grants. TAACCT grants currently receive mandatory funding of $500 million per year in FY 2011-2014.

In the letter, NSC’s Federal Policy Director Rachel Gragg notes that, “Chairman Ryan’s budget resolution would shut the door on millions of hard‐working individuals, significantly limiting their access to the skills and credentials needed to succeed in today’s labor market. In addition, it would stifle the ability of U.S. businesses to find the skilled workforce they need to take advantage of new markets and emerging economic opportunities, putting our nation at a competitive disadvantage at a time when other countries are ramping up their own investments in human capital.”

A similar letter was sent to lawmakers by the Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce, a broad coalition of national organizations advocating for greater investments in the skills of the U.S. workforce. NSC co-convenes the Campaign with Jobs for the Future.