Earlier this month, the Senate Appropriations Committee was set to mark-up its Labor, Health and Human Services (Labor-HHS-ED) appropriations bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, but now has abruptly halted this process.
As we shared previously, Senate appropriators had set the overall spending cap for appropriations billâ€” also known as a 302(b) allocationâ€” at $156.8 billion. This figure was in line with the spending caps put in place by the Murray-Ryan budget agreement for Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015. This particular appropriations bill funds the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and ultimately determines funding levels for programs such as the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) and its basic state grant allocations.
Following the Senateâ€™s 302(b) announcement, the Senate Labor-HHS-ED Appropriations Subcommittee approved by voice vote its mark-up of the FY 2015 funding bill, which preliminarily determines individual funding levels for the departments and programs under the billâ€™s jurisdiction. However these proposed funding levelsâ€” specifically for the Perkins Act and its basic state grant programâ€” were not publicly released prior to the next step in the Committeeâ€™s appropriations process. The full Senate Appropriations Committee was set to take this bill up for consideration a few days after the subcommitteeâ€™s affirmative voice vote, but unfortunately that mark-up has been indefinitely postponed and it is still unclear why the process has been delayed.
Turning attention towards the other Congressional Chamber, the House Appropriations Committee also recently set its FY 2015 302(b) allocation at $155.7 billionâ€” roughly $1 billion below the Senate level, which was on par with the FY 2014 allocation level. No date has been set for the House billâ€™s mark-up, but Committee staff are optimistic that the Labor-HHS-ED appropriations bill will be considered sometime in July.
NASDCTEc remains hopeful that both Chambers will pass their respective Labor-HHS-ED appropriations bills, but as the summer wears on progress in this area will become more difficult. More recently, Congressional appropriators have talked about a â€œminibusâ€ approach to passing these funding billsâ€” a strategy that would combine a handful of other appropriations bills together in an effort to speed up passage. As this process unfolds, check our blog for information on what the FY 2015 appropriations process will mean for the Perkins Act in the coming year and beyond.
Late last week, the Senate announced it had reached a proceduralÂ agreement to move forward with its consideration of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) legislation that would reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). The agreement sets out a framework for which the bill will be taken to the entire chamber for a vote. Three amendments will be consideredâ€” two from Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Mike Lee (R-UT) and another package of minor changes from the billâ€™s original co-sponsors. The agreement also limits debate significantly, which means the process should move rather quickly once it is brought to the Senate floor.
NASDCTEc is expecting WIOA to be brought to the full Senate sometime this week and possibly as early as tomorrow. Although the likelihood of the three above amendmentsâ€™ passage remains relatively low, strong concerns have been raised among the education and workforce development communities surrounding some of the possible negative ramifications from elements contained in the first two of these amendments. As this process unfolds, stay up to date with WIOAâ€™s progress here.
Senate CTE Caucus Hosts Inaugural Briefing
Earlier this month, the recently formed Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus held its first public event featuring a panel discussion on CTE and its role in preparing students for entry into the 21st century economy. As the reauthorization process for the Perkins Act begins to gain momentum, the caucus has planned several other events to familiarize Hill staff and members of the public with the legislation and its role in supporting high-quality CTE throughout the nation. NASDCTEc Executive Director Kimberly Green participated in the event along with three other panelists:
- Johan Uvin, Acting Assistant Secretary, Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education
- Robert Chiappetta, Associate Director of Government Relations, Toyota
- Steve DeWitt, Deputy Executive Director, ACTE
Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) attended the standing room-only briefing and delivered remarks to the audience regarding their interest and continued support of the CTE enterprise.
Odds & Ends: NGA, BUILD CTE Act, Presidentâ€™s Worchester Commencement Address
Yesterday, the National Governors Association (NGA) released its principles for the reauthorization of the Perkins Act. The document lays out NGAâ€™s positions on governance and leadership, alignment and collaboration, state flexibility, accountability, funding and more with regards to Perkins. The full set of principles can be found here.
Representative Kurt Schrader (D-OR) introduced H.R. 4782 a bill that would establish a career and technical education exploration pilot program for middle and high school students. The Building Understanding, Investment, Learning, and Direction (BUILD) CTE Act is a companion proposal to S. 1293, legislation that was introduced July of last year in the Senate by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR). Both proposals seek to create a competitive grant program for local education agencies which do not already receive Perkins funds to establish career exploration programs for these students.
President Obama delivered the commencement address on June 11th for the 2014 graduating class of Worchester Technical High School in Worcester, Massachusetts. The President focused his remarks on the importance of engaging the local community and private sector which has helped to support the high-quality career technical education (CTE) experiences on offer in Worcester. He also highlighted the long list of accomplishments the school and its students have had since it more fully embraced a CTE model throughout the high school. The full speech and transcript can be found here.
Steve Voytek, Government Relations AssociateÂ