Letter to House and Senate Appropriations Committees on FY 2017

Dear Chairman Cochran, Ranking Member Leahy, Chairman Frelinghuysen, and Ranking Member Lowey:

The Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce (CIAW) – a diverse coalition of national organizations calling for strong federal investments to help U.S workers and businesses gain the skills necessary to compete in today’s rapidly restructuring economy – urges you to ensure that key education and workforce programs are adequately funded as you work to complete the Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations process.

CIAW urges you to adopt the greater of the House- or Senate-proposed FY 2017 appropriations for our nation’s workforce programs, including but not limited to those authorized in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the Carl D. Perkins Act, the Higher Education Act, the Older Americans Act, and other federal programs that help Americans gain family-supporting jobs.

These vital programs play a critical role in the effort to sustain our economic growth and reduce income inequality. They are essential to ensuring that American businesses can find the skilled workers they need to compete; and U.S. workers may share in the economic prosperity of our nation.  They have enjoyed strong bi-partisan support but their impact would be magnified if they were adequately funded.  Without meaningful investments in a skilled workforce, skill gaps will stifle job growth and threaten our nation’s economic competitiveness.

While U.S. unemployment has declined to pre-recession levels, there are millions of jobs unfilled and millions of Americans who lack the skills and credentials to fill them. We cannot compete if we continue to cut these critical programs.

Thus, we urge you to:

  • Fund WIOA Title I employment and training programs at the levels set forth in the House FY 2017 appropriations bill so states, local areas, and other partners can fully realize the bipartisan vision outlined by WIOA to enable workers and job seekers to fill emerging jobs, continue to learn on the job, and advance in careers that help them support their families;
  • Fund adult education and literacy programs under Title II of WIOA at least at current-year levels to ensure that the 36 million Americans with low basic skills are able to strengthen their educational levels in order to take advantage of existing and emerging economic opportunities;
  • Fund Wagner/Peyser Employment Services (ES) activities under Title III of WIOA at current-year levels to give states the additional resources they need to provide WIOA’s intensive reemployment services;
  • Fund the vocational rehabilitation program and other employment services authorized under WIOA Title IV for adults and students with disabilities at current year levels;
  • Fund job training and employment services for older workers (Senior Community Service Employment Program) and at-risk veterans (Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program) at the House committee-approved levels;
  • Fund WIOA youth programs, including YouthBuild at the House committee-approved levels to train the next generation of workers so they can become productive citizens, achieve their career goals, and contribute to their local community;
  • Fund apprenticeship grants under the Department of Labor at the Senate committee-approved levels;
  • Maintain current funding levels for career and technical education (CTE) state grants under the Carl D. Perkins Act, in anticipation of likely reauthorization in 2017; and
  • Maintain funding for the federal Pell Grant program to ensure that the more than 7 million low-income students receiving this critical financial assistance can continue to pursue their education.

Investments in America’s workers’ skills and education are critical to businesses, workers, and the economy. Again, we urge you to fund these key workforce and education programs at levels that will keep our nation competitive.

Thank you for your leadership and attention to these important matters.


American Association of Community Colleges
American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
Association for Career and Technical Education
Association of Community College Trustees
Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs
Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
Coalition on Adult Basic EducationThe Corps Network
Council for Adult and Experiential Learning
Council for Community and Economic Research
Goodwill Industries International
Heartland Alliance
Insight Center for Community Economic Development
International Association of Jewish Vocational Services
International Economic Development Council
Jobs for the Future
National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE)
National Association of Development Organizations
National Association of Regional Councils
National Association of State Workforce Agencies
National Association of Workforce Boards
National Association of Workforce Development Professionals
National College Transition Network, World Education Inc.
National Council for Workforce Education
National Council on Aging
National Fund for Workforce Solutions
National League of Cities
National Skills Coalition
National Youth Employment Coalition
Workforce Data Quality Campaign
Young Invincibles
YouthBuild USA