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Legislative Update: House Committee Passes WIA Reauth Bill

The House Education and the Workforce Committee held a markup of H.R. 4297, the Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012 yesterday. The bill represents large scale changes to the current WIA program. The bill was approved by a party line vote of 23 to 15. There is no word on when the bill will go to the floor.

The bill proposes to consolidate approximately 30 existing workforce and training programs into a single, flexible Workforce Investment Fund, and it would give Governors the power to consolidate even more programs under a unified state plan. The bill would also require states and locals to use common performance measures for all workforce development programs.

As we previously reported, an earlier bill introduced by Rep. Virginia Foxx (NC), which was merged into H.R. 4297, allowed states to submit a unified state plan encompassing two or more job training and related programs, including both Perkins secondary and postsecondary programs. Under Foxx’s bill, Perkins funds would have been eligible to be consolidated into a Workforce Investment Fund and used for workforce activities. After hearing from the CTE community, new language was added to the Workforce Investment Improvement Act that singles out Perkins as one program whose funds cannot be consolidated into the Workforce Investment Fund.

The Workforce Investment Improvement Act also proposes changes to the Job Corps program to ensure that CTE and job training offered under that program is focused on in-demand occupations and that disadvantaged youth receive a regular high school diploma and/or a postsecondary credential that prepares them for employment.

Democrats on the Committee are not supportive of the bill, and offered a substitute bill as an amendment. Their bill focused on career pathways in high demand industries that lead to industry recognized credentials and postsecondary attainment. It would also expand the role of community colleges in job training. The Democrats’ amendment was voted down along party lines.

A summary of H.R. 4297 can be found here.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

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