Congress Back in Session, New Advance CTE Resources, Perkins Reauthorization Update

April 13th, 2018

With Congress back in session this week (after a two-week recess), there’s news to share from Washington, D.C.! Read below to learn more about President Trump’s intent to nominate a key official for a post at the U.S. Department of Labor, an important announcement about the current Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, new resources from Advance CTE and an update on reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins).

President Trump to Nominate John P. Pallasch for Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training

On April 11, President Trump announced his intent to nominate John P. Pallasch for the position of Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training. Pallasch previously served in the Kentucky Department of Labor as the Executive Director of the Office of Employment and Training.

Speaker of the House, Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) Will Not Seek Re-Election 

On April 11, Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), who is the current Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives announced that he will not seek re-election in November. The next House Speaker will be selected after the November elections and will take on the role in January 2019, when the next Congress is sworn into office.

Advance CTE Releases CTE on the Frontier: Rural CTE Strategy Guide

This week, Advance CTE released CTE on the Frontier: Rural CTE Strategy Guide, a tool that includes a series of questions for state leaders to use as they reflect on current efforts to expand access to high-quality CTE and career-focused pathways and experiences in rural communities and to identify future opportunities and actions. The guide, along with Advance CTE’s earlier CTE on the Frontier briefs are accessible in the Learning that Works Resource Center and examine state strategies to improve program quality, connect rural learners to the world of work, diversify program offerings and strengthen the CTE teacher pipeline. In all, this package of resources can help state leaders identify and execute a plan to improve rural access to high-quality career pathways.

Status Update on Perkins Reauthorization

Since House passage of H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 2st Century Act, the bill that would reauthorize Perkins, there has been little discussion about the Senate taking up reauthorization. Recently, Senate staff for members of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee have been engaged in internal discussions on Perkins reauthorization. Committee staff are exchanging ideas and language in an effort to spark discussion and move the reauthorization process forward. These initial ideas are not the foundation of a legislative proposal, but rather just one part of the negotiations. While some of the ideas we have heard are not aligned with Advance CTE’s Perkins Reauthorization Recommendations and would present significant concerns, we remain engaged in the process and are working closely with Hill staff to address these issues.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy 

FY18 Omnibus Appropriations Bill Includes Increase for Perkins

March 27th, 2018

Last week marked a big week for Congress’ work on both Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) and 2019 (FY19) appropriations. Read below to learn more about what was included for education and workforce programs in the FY18 omnibus appropriations bill, the FY19 “Dear Colleague” letters to request a strong investment in the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) Basic State Grants and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ testimony on the President’s FY19 Budget Request for the U.S. Department of Education.

FY18 Omnibus Signed Into Law, Perkins Receives $75 Million Increase

Last week, Congress passed and President Trump signed an omnibus appropriations bill for FY18. Notably, the omnibus included a $75 million boost to the Perkins Basic State Grant, bringing this investment up to nearly $1.2 billion. This increase will be allocated to states based on the federal to state formula included in Title I of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins). You can find more information about the the omnibus in Advance CTE’s press release and some notable increases (compared to FY17 levels) to education and workforce programs are outlined below:

  • Student Support and Academic Enrichment state grants, grants authorized under Title IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) received a $700 million increase.
  • Congress authorized an increase in the maximum award for federal Pell Grants. Eligible students could receive up to $6,095 for the 2018-2019 academic year, compared to the current $5,920 per year.
  • State formula grants provided through Title I of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) were increased by $80 million.
  • Adult Education and Family Literacy State Grants were increased by $35 million.
  • Apprenticeship grants received a $50 million increase.

Looking for additional information on program allocations? The National Skills Coalition has a helpful table that compares the FY17 and FY18 omnibus appropriations levels for key education and workforce programs and the Committee for Education Funding has a new table that shows the FY16, FY17 and FY18 appropriations levels as well as the Presidents’ FY18 and FY19 requests for many education programs.

170 Representatives Sign Letter to Support Federal Investment in Perkins

As we reported, Representatives Langevin (D-RI) and Thompson (R-PA) led an effort to send a “Dear Colleague” letter to the leaders of the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee requesting strong funding for Perkins. A record 170 Representatives from both parties across 40 states and territories signed the letter – a strong show of support for CTE and a reflection of your advocacy efforts! Advance CTE will be sending thank you letters to these members of Congress and we encourage you to do so as well if your Representative signed on to the letter (and you can find their contact information through the U.S. House of Representatives Directory).

Contact Your Senator About Signing the FY19 Perkins Funding Letter

Senator Blumenthal (D-CT), along with two of the co-chairs of the Senate CTE Caucus, Senators Baldwin (D-WI) and Kaine (D-VA), will be sending a letter to the Chairman, Senator Blunt (R-MO) and Ranking Member, Senator Murray (D-WA), of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies encouraging that they consider increasing the federal investment in Perkins to $1.3 billion. Right now, these Senators are asking for their colleagues to join them in signing this letter (their request is formally called a “Dear Colleague” letter). Please consider contacting your Senators to encourage them to sign on to the letter by using the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) Action Center or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and asking your Senators to sign onto the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) Perkins appropriations letter.

Secretary DeVos Testifies on U.S. Department of Education FY19 Budget 

On March 20, Secretary DeVos testified on the President’s FY19 Budget Request before the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) Appropriations Subcommittee. After opening statements, Members of the subcommittee used the entire time allotted for the hearing for their questions, which focused on a variety of topics, including school safety, school choice and more. Secretary DeVos discussed CTE briefly in her opening statement and in response to remarks from Representatives who noted their support of CTE, she said, “we would advocate for making the CTE programming through the Perkins program more flexible to reach down even into middle school to help students know and understand, again what pathways they might have beyond high school to consider.”

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy 

Secretary DeVos Scheduled to Testify on FY19 Department of Education Budget

March 16th, 2018

Congress is continuing to finalize the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) appropriations bills, with an omnibus package expected before next Friday, March 23 in order to avoid a government shutdown. At the same time, Congress is looking to begin the FY19 appropriations process, with Secretary DeVos scheduled to testify on the FY19 Department of Education Budget next week. Read below to learn more about the upcoming hearing, a new brief from the National Skills Coalition and bills related to Career Technical Education (CTE) that were introduced recently.

Secretary DeVos to Testify on FY19 Department of Education Budget 

On Tuesday, March 20, the U.S. House of Representatives Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. Eastern Time on the President’s FY19 Budget for the U.S. Department of Education. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is scheduled to testify during the hearing, which will be webcast on the subcommittee’s website.

New Brief: Putting Pell Grants to Work for Working Students

The National Skills Coalition recently released a new brief, Putting Pell Grants to Work for Working Students. The brief discusses how Pell Grant eligibility could be expanded to include high-quality, short-term programs and “calls for the modernization of our federal financial aid system so that it can truly meet the needs of today’s students and employers. The paper makes the case for this policy change by laying out the evolution of the postsecondary landscape, highlighting favorable outcomes of short-term programs, underscoring the role of sector partnerships in bridging the existing financial aid gap and highlighting the efforts of two states-Iowa and Virginia-to enroll students in programs that will lead to jobs in in-demand industries.”

In Case You Missed It: Gateway to Careers, GIRLS-STEM Act Introduced 

On February 8, Senator Hassan (D-NH), along with three co-sponsors introduced the “Gateway to Careers Act.” The bill’s press release highlights that it will, “provide grants to support partnerships between community or technical colleges and workforce development partners such as state workforce boards, industry associations, and community-based organizations.” A one-page summary of the bill can be found here.

On March 6, Representative McNerney (D-CA) introduced the “Getting into Researching, Learning & Studying of STEM (GIRLS-STEM) Act of 2018.” The bill would “provide grants to local educational agencies to develop plans that would encourage young women to study STEM, educate students’ parents about STEM opportunities for their children, provide training and mentoring opportunities for students and prepare secondary students for college STEM programs.” Advance CTE is proud to support both of these bills.
Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Contact Your Representative About Signing Perkins Funding Letter

March 9th, 2018

As Congress continues its work on the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) appropriations process, efforts to encourage support for programs for FY19 are underway. Read below to find out how you can support a strong federal investment in Perkins and to learn about new updates from the U.S. Department of Education.

Contact Your Representative About Signing the FY19 Perkins Funding Letter

The two co-chairs of the House CTE Caucus (Representatives Langevin (D-RI) and Thompson (R-PA)) will be sending a letter to the Chairman, Tom Cole (R-OK) and Ranking Member, Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies encouraging that they consider strong support for Perkins. Right now, Reps. Langevin (D-RI) and Thompson are asking for their colleagues in the House to join them in signing this letter (their request is formally called a “Dear Colleague” letter). Please consider contacting your Representative by March 14 to encourage him/her to sign on to the letter by using the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) Action Center or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and asking your Representative to sign onto the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) Perkins appropriations letter. Looking for resources on Perkins funding or how it’s used? Check out the new Perkins page on Advance CTE’s website.

New Resource: the Advancing Equity in CTE Community of Practice

The Advancing Equity in CTE Community of Practice is now live on the U.S. Department of Education’s Literacy Information and Communication Systems (LINCS) site. This moderated community offers CTE educators a forum to engage in thoughtful discussions and share tools and resources to increase equity in CTE programming. You can pose questions and help answer those of colleagues. In addition to facilitated discussions, other equity-focused professional learning opportunities will include webinars, interactive resource reviews, blog posts, and important event announcements.

U.S. Department of Education Releases Final Supplemental Priorities for Competitive Grants 

On March 2, the U.S. Department of Education released the final supplemental prioritiesfor discretionary grant programs, which can be used to award competitive grants beginning April 2. The priorities were initially released in October 2017 for public comment and the final priorities include some additional details. The final priorities are as follows: “1) Empowering Families and Individuals to Choose a High-Quality Education that Meets Their Unique Needs, 2) Promoting Innovation and Efficiency, Streamlining Education with an Increased Focus on Improving Student Outcomes, and Providing Increased Value to Students and Taxpayers, 3) Fostering Flexible and Affordable Paths to Obtaining Knowledge and Skills, 4) Fostering Knowledge and Promoting the Development of Skills that Prepare Students to be Informed, Thoughtful, and Productive Individuals and Citizens, 5) Meeting the Unique Needs of Students and Children with Disabilities and/or Those with Unique Gifts and Talents, 6) Promoting STEM Education, With a Particular Focus on Computer Science, 7) Promoting Literacy, 8) Promoting Effective Instruction in Classrooms and Schools, 9) Promoting Economic Opportunity, 10) Protecting Freedom of Speech and Encouraging Respectful Interactions in a Safe Educational Environment and 11) Ensuring that Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families Have Access to High-Quality Educational Options.”

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy 

Senate CTE Caucus Holds HEA Briefing, Advance CTE Launches Updated Federal Policy Webpage

March 5th, 2018

Career Technical Education (CTE) Month wrapped up this week, but there was no shortage of exciting CTE activity to round out the month. In February, the U.S. Department of Education released a new strategic plan, the U.S. Senate CTE Caucus held a briefing and Advance CTE launched a redesigned federal policy webpage. Read below to learn more about each of these updates!

Senate CTE Caucus Holds Briefing on HEA and CTE 

On February 28, the U.S. Senate CTE Caucus held a briefing, “How Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) Can Better Reflect Today’s CTE Landscape.” Advance CTE’s Executive Director, Kimberly Green, moderated the panel discussion between James Brown (Executive Director, STEM Education Coalition), Steven Partridge (Vice President of Workforce Development, Northern Virginia Community College) and Mitch Coppes (Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Manager, Association for Career and Technical Education). The briefing touched on how a reauthorized HEA could help address the nation’s shortage of CTE educators, how community and technical colleges and other two-year programs are preparing learners for today’s in-demand jobs and other intersections between HEA and CTE. Senator Kaine (D-VA) also provided remarks about the power of CTE and the importance of sharing best practices in the field going into HEA reauthorization.

U.S. Department of Education Releases Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2018 – 2022

On February 12, the U.S. Department of Education released a Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2018 – 2022. The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) is identified on page 18 of the plan as one of the implementation strategies associated with the Strategic Objective 2.3 to “Support agencies and educational institutions as they create or expand innovative and affordable paths to relevant careers by providing postsecondary credentials or job-ready skills.” This objective is part of the plan’s second strategic goal (of four total), which is to “Expand postsecondary educational opportunities, improve outcomes to foster economic opportunity and promote an informed, thoughtful and productive citizenry.”

Advance CTE Launches Redesigned Federal Policy Webpage, New Resources

To find all of the latest resources related to Advance CTE’s federal policy agenda, check out our redesigned Federal Policy webpage on Advance CTE’s website! The webpage features a new “become a CTE advocate” section. Additionally, check out our new and updated fact sheets, Understanding the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 and Funding CTE: An American Imperative on the Perkins page. Advance CTE members can also access additional federal policy resources on the members-only webpage.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Congress Raises Budget Caps, Recognizes CTE Month

February 9th, 2018

February 1 officially marked the start of Career Technical Education (CTE) Month and Congress has recognized its importance! Read below to find out more about CTE Month resolutions, hearings in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, and a status update on the Fiscal Year 2018 budget and appropriations process.

Congress Supports Resolutions to Recognize CTE Month

On February 7, Representatives Langevin (D-RI) and Thompson (R-PA), co-chairs of the Congressional CTE Caucus, introduced a resolution to recognize national CTE month. The bipartisan resolution was co-sponsored by 38 additional Representatives.

Senators Kaine (D-VA), Baldwin (D-WI), Portman (R-OH) and Young (R-IN), co-chairs of the Senate CTE Caucus, are co-sponsoring a CTE Month resolution. Please encourage your Senator to co-sponsor the CTE Month resolution by visiting the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) CTE Action Center here. The deadline for additional co-sponsors is 5pm Eastern Time on Monday, February 12.

Hearings on Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA) Continue

As we reported, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee has held a series of hearings on the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). On January 30, the hearing, “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Accountability and Risk to Taxpayers” featured testimony from Anthony Carnevale (Research Professor And Director, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce), Jose Luis Cruz (President, Herbert H. Lehman College City University of New York), Jason D. Delisle (Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute), Ben Miller (Senior Director, Postsecondary Education, Center for American Progress) and Mamie Voight (Vice President Of Policy Research, Institute for Higher Education Policy). The hearing focused on a number of topics including how the law’s accountability, data and public reporting provisions can be updated or reformed.

The latest hearing, “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Improving College Affordability” was on February 6, and included a broad discussion of federal student aid that touched on expenses associated with postsecondary education, college completion and more.

House Committee Hearing Focuses on Use of Education Data

On January 30, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing, “Protecting Privacy, Promoting Policy: Evidence-Based Policymaking and the Future of Education.” The hearing included a discussion of the federal laws that govern the use of student data and data privacy practices. Witnesses also testified about how education data and research can be used to inform policy, drive decisions and evaluate programs.

Congress Raises Budget Caps, Funds Government Through March 23

The last short-term funding measure, known as a continuing resolution, that Congress passed to keep the government funded at its current levels expired on February 8 at midnight. Early on February 9, Congress passed a measure that will fund the government through March 23 and also raise the current budget caps in place for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019 by $296 billion. President Trump signed the measure on February 9. With the new caps in place, Congressional appropriators will likely turn their attention to finalizing an omnibus appropriations package for Fiscal Year 2018 before March 23.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Senate CTE Caucus Holds Perkins Briefing, Senate Committee Continues HEA Hearings

January 29th, 2018

Last week Congress passed a short-term funding measure, the Senate held a hearing on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA) and the U.S. Senate Career Technical Education (CTE) Caucus hosted a briefing. Read below to learn more about these events and upcoming congressional hearings this week.

Congress Passes Continuing Resolution to Fund Government Through February 8 

As we reported, Congress needed to come to a spending agreement by January 19 in order to avoid a government shutdown. After a three-day shutdown, Congress passed a continuing resolution on January 22 to keep the government funded until February 8. Due to the budget caps for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18), Congress applied a 0.68 percent across-the-board cut. This cut impacts education programs that are advance funded, including the the Perkins Basic State Grant. However, Congress has the opportunity to nullify these cuts when they come to a final agreement for the FY18 spending bills and Advance CTE will advocate for such action as Congress works to finalize these bills.

Congressional Staff and Partners Fill the Room for Perkins Briefing

On January 23, the Senate CTE Caucus held a briefing, Perkins CTE and How Reauthorization Can Improve Programs. During the briefing, Kimberly Green, Advance CTE’s Executive Director and Alisha Hyslop, the Director of Public Policy at the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), presented on the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) to over 70 attendees. They provided an overview of the law and shared how the federal investment in Perkins supports CTE systems across the country. In addition, both panelists highlighted state and local examples of implementation and how reauthorization could improve programs.

Senate Continues Hearings on Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA)

On January 18, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing, “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Financial Aid Simplification and Transparency“, the second in a series of hearings on reauthorizing HEA (the first was held in late November and focused on simplifying the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)). Witnesses highlighted how the current federal financial aid system could be streamlined. On January 25, the Senate HELP Committee conducted a hearing, “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Access and Innovation,” which focused on innovations in postsecondary education and included discussions of competency-based education, distance education, online learning, accreditation and more. The next Senate HELP Committee hearing, “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Accountability and Risk to Taxpayers” is scheduled for January 30 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time and you can watch it live online here.

House Committee on Education and the Workforce Holds Hearing on January 30

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce will be holding a hearing, “Protecting Privacy, Promoting Policy: Evidence-Based Policymaking and the Future of Education,” on Tuesday, January 30 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time. Watch the hearing live online here.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy 

New Members on Senate HELP Committee, Secretary DeVos Encourages “Rethinking School”

January 17th, 2018

As Congress begins its work in the new year, one of the most pressing matters is keeping the government open beyond January 19. In late December, Congress passed a short-term funding measure, known as a continuing resolution (CR), to keep the government open at the current funding levels until January 19. Congress will need to pass another CR by that date to avoid a government shutdown. Read below to find more news out of Washington, D.C. this week.

Secretary DeVos Encourages “Rethinking School” 

On Tuesday, January 16, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) hosted a research conference, “Bush-Obama school reform: Lessons learned.” Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos gave the keynote address, followed by a conversation with AEI Resident Scholar and Director of Education Policy Studies Frederick M. Hess. Secretary DeVos enforced the importance of “rethinking school” and education beyond traditional classroom practices so that all students are able to find success. Secretary DeVos also cautioned against federal overreach, while emphasizing the need for parents to be informed and empowered. You can find Secretary DeVos’ prepared remarks here and the video for the full conference here.

New Members on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee

Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Doug Jones (D-AL) joined the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee this month. Sen. Smith (D-MN) was appointed by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton to fill Sen. Franken’s seat. Sen. Jones (D-AL) won a special election to fill the seat that Attorney General Jeff Sessions held (and was previously filled by Luther Strange). You can find a full list of Senate HELP committee members here.

New Fact Sheet Traces Decline of Workforce Funding Over Time

The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) recently released a new fact sheet that illustrates the decline of the federal investment in employment and job training services over the past 40 years. It compares the federal investment in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to the federal investment in the previous major pieces of workforce legislation dating back to 1963.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy 

CTE & Federal Policy: Recapping the Biggest Stories of 2017

January 12th, 2018

Last year marked a big year for Career Technical Education (CTE) in the federal policy arena. Read below to see the top five stories of 2017 and be sure to join us on January 25 at 1 pm ET for a webinar recapping these stories and their impact on CTE. Mark your calendars and register for the webinar here.

  1. The U.S. House of Representatives Passed H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act on a voice vote without objection. This bill would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins).  
  2. Policymakers encouraged Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee to take up Perkins reauthorization. A “Dear Colleague” letter to the committee’s leadership that urged the committee to work in a bipartisan manner to reauthorize the law garnered 237 signatures in the House and a similar letter garnered 59 signatures in the Senate.
  3. Policymakers signaled strong support for the federal investment in CTE, despite the Trump Administration’s proposal to cut the Perkins Basic State Grant by 15% in Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18). A “Dear Colleague” letter encouraging appropriators to support a strong investment in CTE for FY18 garnered 140 signatures in the House and a similar letter garnered 34 signatures in the Senate.  
  4. States submitted their plans for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). In their plans, 49 states included at least one strategy to expand career readiness and 35 states included a career-focused measure in their high school accountability rating systems.
  5. The House Committee on Education and the Workforce passed H.R. 4508, the “Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity Through Education Reform” (PROSPER) Act on a party-line vote. This bill would update the Higher Education Act (HEA), which was last reauthorized in 2008.

 

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

 

Legislative Updates: House Committee Passes HEA Reauthorization Bill

December 15th, 2017

As Congress wraps up its final weeks in session before the winter recess, there has been a flurry of activity. Read below to find out more about the postsecondary education legislation that advanced out of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, the next step in the appropriations process for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) and an update on the tax reform legislation moving through Congress.

Higher Education Act (HEA) Reauthorization Proposal Passes House Committee on Education and the Workforce 

As we shared in our Legislative Update, on December 1, Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, introduced H.R. 4508, the “Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity Through Education Reform” (PROSPER) Act. This bill would reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA), which was last reauthorized in 2008, and would make significant changes to a number of provisions within the current law. The bill and related materials from the Committee can be found online here. Advance CTE analyzed the bill based on our board-approved HEA Reauthorization Recommendations and submitted a letter expressing our views to the Committee in advance of the Committee’s markup on December 12. During the markup, Committee members offered 63 amendments on a wide range of topics. Eighteen of these amendments were adopted, but the proposal’s architecture was largely maintained. The PROSPER Act passed out of Committee on a party line vote (23-17) and the bill is expected to go before the full U.S. House of Representatives for a vote in early 2018. It is likely that the U.S. Senate will unveil its own proposal in early 2018.

Congress Passes Short-Term Funding Measure

On December 7, Congress passed a short-term funding measure, known as a continuing resolution (CR), to keep the government open at the current funding levels, beyond December 8, when the previous CR was set to expire. The current CR expires on December 22, meaning Congress will likely need to pass another CR by this date to allow time for Congress to come to an agreement on budget caps for defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) spending (which will provide appropriators with the top-line numbers they need to advance Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations bills).

House and Senate Tax Reform Bills Go to Conference Committee

In November, both the House and Senate passed tax reform bills. House and Senate leadership have named 29 Members of Congress to a conference committee to reconcile the differences between these bills. The conference committee is expected to come to an agreement on the legislation soon and it is likely that both chambers of Congress will vote on the legislation next week. Advance CTE had concerns about a number of provisions in each bill, including the elimination of: the deductions for state and local taxes (SALT), the educator expense deduction, student loan interest tax deductions, the lifetime learning credit and tax benefits for employer tuition reimbursement programs. In addition, the overall cost of tax reform is likely to put pressure on appropriators to cut spending in other areas going forward. This means there could be an adverse impact on education spending, including for Perkins Basic State Grants, which have remained relatively flat funded since 1991. To learn more about each of these concerns, check out this blog post from our partners at the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Advance CTE partnered with ACTE to send a letter  to the conference committee expressing these concerns.

Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate for Federal Policy 

 

 

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