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House Panel Boosts Funding for Education and Workforce Programs

May 16, 2019


By Mary Gardner Clagett, senior director at JFF

The powerful House Appropriations Committee has taken an important step toward making major boosts in funding for vital education and workforce development programs that will help low-income and underserved people gain valuable education and training. If passed by the fullCongress, the bill would move the nation closer to a future where all Americans have the opportunity to advance in this rapidly changing economy.

The committee, on May 8, approved a Fiscal 2020 bill covering the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor. Compared with Fiscal 2019 levels, the bill would increase federal funding by $11.8 billion for critical education, workforce development, and health and human services programs. The bill next goes to a vote before the full House, where it has a good chance at passage. Then the Republican-controlled Senate will come up with its own Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill and the two versions will be reconciled.

JFF is encouraged by the proposed funding increases, which would provide vital assistance to America’s students, workers, and our most vulnerable populations.

The bill would increase federal funding by $11.8 billion for critical education, workforce development, and health and human services programs.

The bill would benefit many programs, and specifically calls for an early $475 million increase in funding for the nation’s workforce development system—providing skills training and employment assistance to low-income adults, opportunity youth, and dislocated workers in need. These investments are especially significant, because funding for workforce programs has been cut or held constant over the past 30 years, even though millions of Americans are in need of assistance.

The bill prioritizes skills development and would provide an additional $90 million over current levels for Registered Apprenticeship programs. It also would provide $150 million for the new Strengthening Community College Training Grants initiative, which helpsAmericans gain the job skills that are needed in regional labor markets, building on lessons learned through the successful Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program.

The legislation would also boost funding for the nation’s higher education programs by $431 million, providing increases in funding for college work study, TRIO programs, Pell Grants, and other programs designed to help people from underrepresented, low-income, and minority populations enter and succeed in post secondary education.

Additionally, the bill calls for significant investments in K-12 education, increasing funding by $1 billion each for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Title I grants for improving basic programs at state and local levels and for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which allows eligible children with disabilities to get a free, quality public education.

Those are just a few examples of the proposed increases in funding that are included in the legislation. Those increases would help make up for years of stagnant funding levels for many discretionary domestic programs.

For more than 35 years, JFF has worked at the intersection of education and workforce development, helping to build and identify evidence-based programming in support of the skills of the American workforce—especially for low-income and underprepared populations. Through this work, we have witnessed the difference that these programs can make in people’s lives—helping individuals prepare for family-supporting careers and advance economically. We are heartened to see the first major investments in education and workforce development programs in many years, and we applaud the insight ofHouse committee members as we begin this FY 2020 budget season.

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