Letter to Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee

Dear Chairman Cochran, Ranking Member Leahy, Chairman Blunt and Ranking Member Murray:
The Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce (CIAW) is a diverse coalition of national organizations that offer direct services, advocacy, research, and policy development to help people of all ages and conditions develop their skills, enter gainful employment, and enroll and succeed in postsecondary education. CIAW urges you 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. We also encourage you to work with leadership to negotiate a long-term budget agreement that would include higher spending levels, end sequestration and raise harmful budget caps.

Middle skill jobs—those requiring more than a high school diploma, but not a four-year degree—make up 53 percent of today’s labor market, but only 43 percent of U.S. workers are trained at this level. This disconnect leaves rural and urban businesses struggling to find workers with appropriate skills, and it leaves workers without meaningful pathways to better-paying jobs.
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 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.

We simply cannot compete in the global economy if we keep cutting and eliminating effective programs.

CIAW urges you to maintain parity between defense and non-defense spending levels and provide adequate funding in the Senate Labor-HHS bill for critical programs under WIOA, the Perkins Act, the Higher Education Act, Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program, Title V under the Older Americans Act (OAA), the Corporation for National and Community Service’s programs like AmeriCorps, and related activities.

Specifically, CIAW urges 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 by:

• Funding WIOA Title I employment and training programs, including Job Corps and YouthBuild, at authorized levels so states, local areas, and other partners can fully realize the bipartisan vision outlined by WIOA;
• Funding adult education and literacy programs under Title II of WIOA at least at authorized levels to ensure that the 36 million Americans with low basic skills can take advantage of existing and emerging economic opportunities;
• Funding 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;
• Funding the vocational rehabilitation program and other employment services authorized under WIOA Title IV for adults and students with disabilities at current year levels;
• Funding job training and employment services for older workers (Senior Community Service Employment Program) at no less than current year levels and maintain the proposed funding increase for employment services for at-risk veterans (homeless Veterans Reintegration Program);
• Maintaining or increasing the $95 million investment in apprenticeship programs in current-year funding;
• Maintaining support for data collection on program effectiveness by funding the Workforce Data Quality Initiative at current year levels;
• Funding Perkins CTE state grants at least at $1.3 billion to support CTE programs aligned to needs of business and industry; and
• Sustaining funding - including preserving the current reserve fund - 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.

If you have questions about this letter or its attachments, please contact Kermit Kaleba, at Kermitk@nationalskillscoalition.org. Thank you for your attention to these important issues.

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

Download the full letter here.