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Legislative Update: Obama Jobs Plan, FY12 Appropriations, Bills Introduced

President’s Jobs Package Focuses on Education

Last night, before a joint session of Congress, President Obama unveiled his proposal to create jobs and grow the economy. With unemployment hovering around 9%, the Administration hopes that this plan turn around the economy. Broadly, the American Jobs Act proposes to extend existing and implement new tax cuts, and invest in areas such as infrastructure, housing aid, and education. This $400 billion plan will be paid for using savings identified by the newly-appointed Congressional deficit reduction committee.

Related to education, and CTE in particular, there are some promising elements:

$35 billion to prevent public sector job layoffs – This includes educators, police officers and firefighters. Up to 280,000 education jobs are vulnerable to cuts this school year due to state budget troubles. The fund would support state and local efforts to retain teachers, counselors, tutors, and classroom assistants.
$30 billion school modernization fund – This fund would support efforts to modernize at least 35,000 public schools. The money could be used to update labs, renovate facilities and increase internet access. Priority will be given to rural schools and schools in the most need. The funding includes $5 billion dedicated to community colleges.
$5 billion for low-income youth and adults – This funding will focus on expanding employment opportunities for communities that have been hardest hit by the recession. Called the Pathways Back to Work Fund, it will make it easier for workers to remain connected to the workforce and gain new skills for long-term employment. This initiative will include:
o Support for summer and year-round jobs for youth
o Subsidized employment opportunities for low-income individuals who are unemployed
o Support for local efforts to implement promising work-based strategies and to provide training opportunities, including:
 Sector-based training programs
 Acquisition of industry-recognized credentials
 Career academies that provide students with academic preparation and training
 Free evening and weekend basic computer training classes, adult basic education and integrated basic education

FY 12 Appropriations
The House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education markup scheduled for this morning has been cancelled, with no new date announced. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (VA) has said that the House will vote on a continuing resolution during the week of September 19 that it will likely run through November 18. Congress is hoping to finalize the appropriations process by that date and will use an omnibus appropriations bill, rather than separate bills by subcommittee.

In the Senate, the Appropriations Committee approved a funding level for Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee that is $17.9 billion above the $139.2 billion set by the House. While the $157.1 billion allocation for the Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee is $23.7 billion below the Administration’s FY12 budget request and $300 million below FY1 levels, this is encouraging news. Despite the fiscal climate, it is clear that the Senate understands the importance of education programs.

Bills Introduced

Technical school training subsidy bill
Rep. John Barrow (GA) introduced H.R. 2851, a bill that would amend the Workforce Investment Act to establish a technical school training subsidy program. The bill would provide competitive grants to the states to provide funds to local workforce investment boards for technical school training subsidies in local areas through the One-Stop system. Subsidies received by individuals shall be used to assist them in paying the cost of tuition for career and technical education at a technical school.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

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