NSC joined with nearly 50 organizations sign on to letter to Senate Appropriators

On August 4, National Skills Coalition joined with almost 50 members of the Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce submitted a letter to Senate appropriators urging them to pass a Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) bill that includes adequate investments in job training and adult education as you work to complete the FY 2018 appropriations process.

Despite the growing demands for skills, the President proposed draconian cuts to vital workforce and education programs in his FY 2018 Presidential Budget Request. The House did not fully accept these proposals, but the Labor-HHS bill approved by the full House Appropriations Committee would still cut hundreds of millions of dollars from funding for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), Pell Grants for low-income and working students, apprenticeship strategies, the Senior Community Service Employment Program, and other key investments in our economic competitiveness.

These cuts couldn’t come at a worse time for our economy. Ongoing state and local implementation of WIOA, as well as the upcoming reauthorizations of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and the Higher Education Act, provide unprecedented opportunities to develop the skills of America’s workers through access to effective workforce education and training. Realizing this potential, however, requires sustained funding. And the proposed cuts in both the President’s budget request and the House Labor-HHS bill would come on time of historic disinvestments: since 2001 WIOA state training grants have been cut by 39%, CTE grants to states have been cut by 34%, and Adult Education funding has been cut by 22% when adjusted for inflation.

CIAW urged the committee to reject cuts to education and workforce programs, and instead mark up a Labor-HHS appropriations bill that will restore investments in our nation’s workers.

The organizations below, almost 50 members of CIAW, signed on to the letter.

Advance CTE
American Association of Community Colleges
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
American Federation of Teachers
Association for Career and Technical Education
Arapahoe/Douglas COLORADO Workforce Development Board
Association of Community College Trustees
Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs
Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
California Workforce Association
Coalition on Adult Basic Education
Corporation for a Skilled Workforce
Council for Adult and Experiential Learning
Goodwill Industries International, Inc.
Heartland Alliance
Indiana Workforce Board Association
Jobs for the Future
Maryland Workforce Association
Michigan Works! Association
Minnesota Workforce Council Association
National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity
National Association of Counties
National Association of Development Organizations
National Association of Regional Councils
National Association of State Workforce Agencies
National Associations of Workforce Boards
National Association of Workforce Development Professionals
National College Transition Network at World Education, Inc.
National Council of State Directors of Adult Education
National Job Corps Association
National Youth Employment Coalition
Network of Jewish Human Services
New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals
North Carolina Association of Workforce Development Boards
Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board
Oregon Workforce Partnership
Pennsylvania Workforce Development Association
Rocky Mountain Workforce Development Association
Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law
The Corps Network
The National Council for Workforce Education
Texas Association of Workforce Boards
Washington Workforce Association
Workforce Data Quality Campaign
Workforce Southwest Washington
Young Invincibles
YouthBuild USA

Posted In: Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce

1,062 orgs tell Congress to restore funding.

  ·   By Josh Spaulding,

This week, the Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce, convened by National Skills Coalition, along with the Committee for Education Funding, and the Coalition for Health Funding, delivered a letter signed by 1,062 national, state and local organizations representing all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands to the House and Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Committees urging them to restore funding in fiscal year (FY) 2015 for programs under their jurisdiction to the FY 2010 level of $163.6 billion and to end sequestration.

With the passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (BBA), the top line FY 2015 discretionary funding level—called the 302(a) allocation—has been set at $1.014 trillion. This clears the way for appropriators to move forward setting the funding levels for each of the appropriations subcommittees—the 302(b) allocations—including the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-H) subcommittee. Once the Labor-H subcommittee receives its 302(b) allocation, it will then try to decide how to divvy up the funding between the agencies and programs under its jurisdiction, including federal employment, education, and occupational training programs. 

Since FY 2010, Congress has cut workforce development funding by about $1 billion. While the BBA provided partial sequestration relief in FY 2014, there will be substantially less relief in FY 2015 and without action sequestration will be back in full effect FY 2016. As NSC documented last year, these cuts have a significant impact on the ability of employment and job training programs to provide training and services to workers seeking new skills to find a good-paying job and employers seeking the skilled workforce necessary to compete in the global economy. 

NSC will continue to provide updates as Congress moves forward with the budget and appropriations process. 

Posted In: Federal Funding, Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce

Congress approves 2014 spending bill.

  ·   By Angela Hanks,

This week, Congress approved legislation to fund the government for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2014. The House overwhelmingly approved the FY 2014 omnibus bill on Wednesday, by a margin of 359-67. The Senate voted to approve it 72-26the following day. This legislation increases funding for several workforce programs above FY 2013 post-sequestration levels; however, it does not fully restore the cuts made under sequestration.

The $1.012 trillion spending bill that emerged on Monday evening is a product of month-long negotiations between House and Senate appropriators that was kicked off after Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (BBA) in late December. The BBA set overall federal spending levels for FY 2014 and 2015. The 2014 omnibus is the first large-scale funding bill to be approved since the FY 2012 omnibus bill was approved in late 2011. 

While the omnibus bill does fund the majority of workforce development programs above FY 2013 post-sequestration levels, it does not fully restore the cuts made by sequestration. In some cases, education and training programs were even funded at or below post-sequestration levels. Most notably, adult education state grants were funded at FY 2013 post-sequestration levels, and Wagner/Peyser state grants were funded slightly below post-sequestration levels. NSC has prepared a chart detailing funding for key education and training programs under the omnibus. In particular: 

  • WIA formula programs are funded at $2.588 billion ($35 billion above post-sequestration levels; $10 billion below FY 2013 enacted)
  • Wagner/Peyser state grants are funded at $ 664.184 million ($1 million below post-sequestration levels; $35 million below FY 2013 enacted) 
  • Pilots and Demos funding was zeroed out in the omnibus 
  • Career and Technical Education state grants are funded at $1.118 billion ($71 million above post-sequestration levels; $3 million below FY 2013 enacted) 
  • Adult Basic and Literacy Education state grants are funded at $563.955 million (funded at post-sequestration levels; $30 million below FY 2013 enacted) 

The Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce (CIAW), convened by the National Skills Coalition, recently weighed in with Congress on the  omnibus. While we are aware that the Appropriations committees were constrained by overall funding levels set for the omnibus, and we appreciate efforts to restore funding for most workforce development programs above post-sequester levels, we nonetheless expressed our concern that funding is still below pre-sequester levels. 

Posted In: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce

House passes bipartisan budget deal.

  ·   By Angela Hanks,

On December 12, the House voted 332-94 to approve the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013” (BBA), legislation setting overall federal spending levels for fiscal years (FY) 2014 and 2015. It is generally expected that the measure will clear the Senate early next week. Importantly, this compromise legislation partially rolls back the harmful sequestration cuts set to take effect in FY 2014 and 2015. Unfortunately, the BBA did not include an extension of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program, which is set to expire on December 28. 

Brokered by Senate Budget Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Budget Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI), the BBA sets overall spending at $1.012 trillion in FY 2014 and $1.014 trillion in FY 2015. Earlier budget resolutions passed in the House and Senate set spending at $967 billion and $1.058 trillion, respectively. The agreement also provides $63 billion in sequester relief over two years, which is divided evenly between defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs. The agreement is front-loaded with about $45 billion in sequester relief coming in 2014, undoing nearly two-thirds of the NDD sequester, but then nearly three-quarters of the planned NDD sequester cuts will go back into effect in 2015. Though far from perfect, this agreement will restore order to the federal budget and appropriations process, and allow for some much needed reinvestment in our nation’s eroding domestic priorities. The BBA also gives Congress additional time to find an alternative permanent solution to fully eliminate sequestration in the remaining years.   

The BBA did not include an extension of the EUC program, the federally-funded extended Unemployment Insurance (UI) program that serves the long-term unemployed and ensures workers and their families have the financial assistance they need while trying to reenter the labor market. EUC benefits were extended last year as a part of the January fiscal cliff agreement, so there was hope that Congress would take similar action this year and include an extension in any compromise that emerged from the budget conference. 

However, the House will adjourn for the remainder of the year today, so it is certain that the EUC program will lapse. Congress could still come back at the beginning of next year and retroactively extend the program, although the lapse will mean that some long-term unemployed will find themselves without any income support going into 2014. If Congress fails to extend the program, more than one million individuals will lose their UI benefits. NSC strongly supports the EUC program, and will urge Congress to restore the program in January. 

Now that topline spending levels have been set, appropriators will move to set specific spending levels for all 12 appropriations bills, known as 302(b) allocations. The Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce (CIAW) – which NSC convenes – along with the Coalition for Health Funding (CHF) and the Committee on Education Funding (CEF) recently wrote to appropriators urging them to provide the largest possible FY 2014 302(b) allocation to the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) appropriations bill. Labor-HHS funds a wide range of critical education and training activities. 

The continuing resolution (CR) currently funding the government will expire on January 15. If appropriators fail to pass all 12 spending bills before January 15, Congress will either pass another CR, or enact some spending bills in combination with a CR to fund the remainder of the government for the rest of the year. Both chambers already passed several appropriations bills earlier this year; however, in many cases there was a substantial gap between what came out of the House and Senate appropriations committees, in part because the two chambers were working off of two very different topline spending numbers. Now that both chambers are working off of the same topline number, it seems likely that there could be some consensus on some of the individual appropriations bills. 

National Skills Coalition supports the BBA, and applauds members of Congress for working in a bipartisan manner to produce a budget agreement. However, Congress and the Administration still must find a long-term solution to sequestration that does not inflict further damage on non-defense discretionary programs, including programs that build the skills of America’s workers. NSC will continue to weigh in with policymakers on sequestration and other funding issues. 

Posted In: Federal Funding, Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce

Senate Appropriations marks up Labor-H.

  ·   By Angela Hanks,

On July 11, the Senate Committee on Appropriations approved its fiscal year (FY) 2014 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-H) appropriations bill, 16-14. National Skills Coalition and the Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce (CIAW), which NSC co-convenes, recently wrote to members of the Appropriations committee expressing support for the workforce development provisions of the Labor-H bill. CIAW also joined the Coalition for Health Funding (CHF) and the Committee for Education Funding (CEF) in expressing support for the Labor-H bill.

Importantly, the Senate Labor-H bill replaces the damaging sequester, and instead adopts funding levels consistent with the levels established as a part of the January fiscal cliff agreement, the American Taxpayer Relief Act. It is also consistent with levels established by the FY 2014 Senate budget resolution. The Senate Labor-H bill is in stark contrast to the House Labor-H allocation that is 18.6 percent below the final FY 2013 sequester level and 22.2 percent below the FY 2013 pre-sequester Continuing Resolution level.

In particular, the Senate bill makes a number of critical new investments in federal workforce development programs.  The bill:

  • Includes an additional $86 million for Workforce Investment Act (WIA) formula grant to States to help low-skilled adults, dislocated workers, and low-income youth obtain the skills and credentials they need to succeed in the workplace. 
  • Increases the statewide set-aside under WIA from 5 to 7.5 percent (it was previously at 15 percent), which will help those states that are using the funds support innovative strategies such as career pathways and sector partnerships. 
  • Provides an additional $30 million for Reemployment Services under the Wagner-Peyser Employment Services to help the nearly 12 million currently unemployed U.S. workers more rapidly reenter the labor market.
  • Increases funding for the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) by $37 million to help transitioning and disabled veterans reenter the civilian labor market. 
  • Provides $22 million through the Career and Technical Education (CTE) National Programs and the GPRA Data/HEA Program Evaluation program for a new dual enrollment program to support career pathways for students, including adult basic education students, in career and technical education. 
  • Includes an additional $3 million for Adult Education National Leadership Activities to support the expansion of the Department of Education’s reentry education model demonstration initiative. 
  • Continues to provide support for low-income students enrolled in postsecondary education by increasing the maximum Pell grant to $5,785 and increasing funding for the Federal Work Study program by $50 million. 
  • Maintains funding for the Senior Community Service Employment Program that provides low-income unemployed older adults with job training and employment and supportive services to help them obtain employment in their communities.

Although the Senate Labor-H bill does make many new investments in workforce development programs, it failed to include language to reinstate the Ability to Benefit (ATB) provisions under the Pell grant program. The ATB provisions—which allowed students who have demonstrated college readiness but lack a high school diploma or equivalent to access federal financial aid—were previously eliminated as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of FY 2012. Earlier this year, Senator Harkin offered an amendment to the FY 2013 continuing resolution that would have partially reinstated the ATB provisions for individuals enrolled in Career Pathways programs; however, that amendment failed to secure enough votes for adoption.

Although the Senate Labor-H bill was successfully reported out of committee, it is unlikely that it will be taken up by the full Senate. The House has given no indication that it will consider an FY 2014 Labor-H bill even at the subcommittee level, so lawmakers will soon begin focusing on developing a continuing resolution (CR) for FY 2014, rather than moving individual appropriations bills.

It will likely be quite difficult for that process to move forward, because the House topline allocation for FY 2014 assumes sequestration will remain in effect—making even deeper cuts to non-defense discretionary programs like workforce development in order to replace the defense sequester—and the Senate allocation does not. Additionally, while the House and Senate seem to agree that the sequester should be replaced, they sharply disagree on how to do so; while the Senate continues to insist on an alternative that includes revenue increases (in addition to spending cuts), the House insists that revenue increases are a non-starter and has argued for deep cuts to entitlement programs like SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps) and Medicaid. Both sides seem to be digging in their heels for now, and it is not currently clear how the debate will proceed (failure to pass at least a short-term CR by September 30 will result in a government shutdown).

It is important to continue to help policymakers understand the impact of funding cuts on the ability of jobseekers to obtain the skills they need to succeed in the labor market and for employers to find the skilled workforce they need to compete in the global economy. National Skills Coalition will continue to provide updates on the appropriations process as information becomes available.

Posted In: Federal Funding, SNAP Employment and Training, Career and Technical Education, Adult Basic Education, Higher Education Access, Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce