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Posts Tagged ‘Congress’

Legislative Update: Appropriations, Election 2012

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Tentative Date Set for Senate Appropriations Markup

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education has tentatively scheduled markup of their FY13 appropriations bill for June 12th.  As we previously reported, the Labor-HHS-Education bill sets a 302(b) funding level of $157.7 billion.

House Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee Chairman Dennis Rehberg (MT) previously stated that he does not intend to mark up their bill until after the Supreme Court rules on the status of the Affordable Care Act, which is expected to happen in late June.

Romney Provides Insight into Education Policy

Presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Governor Mitt Romney (MA) focused on education this week. On Tuesday he released the names of his team of education policy advisors. You will recognize many of the names from the Bush Administration, including former Secretary of Education Rod Paige, former OVAE Assistant Secretary Carol D’Amico, and former ETA Assistant Secretary Emily DeRocco. A complete list can be found here.

On Wednesday Governor Romney gave a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, setting forth his education policies. The overarching theme of the speech centered on increased parental choice, especially for low-income and special need students, as a way to expand opportunities for students. While he did not mention CTE specifically, he did state, “…[S]ince we live in a twenty-first century economy that increasingly demands a college education, efforts at improvement can’t stop at high school’s end. Students must have access to a wide variety of options that will give them the skills they need for successful careers.”

In a white paper released on Wednesday, A Chance For Every Child: Mitt Romney’s Plan for Restoring the Promise of American Education, Governor Romney laid out more details of this proposed education policies:

K-12 Education

Higher Education

 Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Public Policy
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House Alternative Sequestration Bills Would Result in Deeper Cuts to Domestic Programs

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

In an effort to shield $600 billion in defense spending from sequestration, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (WI) has introduced a pair of bills that would generate savings in some manner other than the current sequestration plan in the Budget Control Act.

The Sequester Replacement Act would reduce the discretionary spending cap set by the Budget Control Act for FY13 by $19 billion. It also prohibits defense spending from being subject to sequestration in FY13. This would shift all of the savings required by the Budget Control Act to fall on non-defense discretionary spending, including education programs.

The House budget resolution included reconciliation instructions for six committees – Agriculture, Energy and Commerce, Financial Services, Judiciary, Oversight and Government Reform and Ways and Means – to save $260 billion over ten years. The resulting bill, the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act, makes cuts to mandatory programs within these six committees in exchange for stopping sequestration in 2013. More information on specific cuts to programs under the committees’ jurisdictions can be found here.

Both bills are expected to be on the House floor for votes next week.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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Legislative Update: Appropriations, Sequestration

Friday, April 27th, 2012

House Sets Spending Levels

The House Appropriations committee this week released their FY13 302(b) allocations. Their allocation for the Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee is $150.002 billion. This is more than $6 billion below FY12 levels, and approximately $7.8 billion below the Senate’s allocation. Such a large divide between the House and the Senate likely means that we will see another series of continuing resolutions this fall.

Sequestration Hearing Highlights Harmful Impact on Education

The House Budget Committee held a hearing this week on sequestration. Daniel Werfel of the Office of Management and Budget told of the impact of sequestration on security and domestic programs:

If allowed to occur, the sequester would be highly destructive to national security and domestic priorities, and core government functions. The Administration believes that taking action to avoid the sequester in full in a balanced and fiscally responsible manner must be the primary focus of Congress’s deliberations in the coming months… For non-defense, the cuts would be equally harmful and wide-ranging, for example, cutting funding for education, law enforcement, infrastructure, and research and development.

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (OR) also raised the point of how harmful the cuts would be to education.  Her question to the witnesses was an especially important one for CTE: “What is going happen to our efforts to rebuild the economy and our long term competiveness in a global market when we are doing this to our future leaders?” Mr. Werfel responded that the approximate 8% cut to non-defense discretionary programs would result in a loss of educational services for students, as well as a loss of educator jobs, for districts that are already struggling.

Unless Congress acts to stop it, sequestration will take effect on January 2, 2013.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Public Policy
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CTE IN THE NEWS: Career Education Plan from Obama Administration Unlikely to Bear Fruit for a Year or More

Friday, April 20th, 2012

The Investing in America’s Future: A Blueprint for Transforming Career and Technical Education unveiled by the Obama Administration this week surfaced questions among key education and policy stakeholders; they rose issue regarding the timing of the document and effectiveness of its funding proposal, according to a recent Huffington Post article.

The article highlighted NASDCTEc’s concerns over the Perkins Blueprint, particularly relative to the proposal that would shift Perkin’s longstanding formula funding into competitive funding. Kimberly Green, NASDCTEc Executive Director, noted how elimination of formula funding would leave states and regions with little or no monies to support areas that likely need the most help with training and educating CTE students for jobs.

“The details worry us,” said Green, in the article. “The competitive approach has the potential effect of really disadvantaging rural areas … that have smaller staffs and no full-time grant writers.”

NASDCTEc this week released a statement noting concerns of the Perkins Blueprint.

Echoing concerns over the Perkins Blueprint funding proposal, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash) said in a statement that she “supports the Administration’s push to build on the successes of CTE programs,” but has “concerns with the funding mechanisms being proposed,” according to the article.

Finally, the article speculated that the Perkins Blueprint will likely not see much traction during this election year, adding that “no congressman has indicated he or she would sponsor a CTE reform bill along the lines of Obama’s proposal.”

“It’s part of a campaign strategy to emphasize employment,” said Jack Jennings, a former longtime Democratic congressional education staffer. “That’s Obama’s weak spot.”

Erin Uy, Communications & Marketing Manager

By Erin in News
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Legislative Update: Appropriations, Bills Introduced

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Congress is on recess this week and next for the Easter and Passover holidays. They will reconvene on Monday April 16, 2012.

 

Dear Colleague Letters Call for Investment in Perkins

Members of both the House and Senate have signed on to “Dear Colleague” letters, asking the appropriators in their respective chambers to invest in Perkins during the FY13 appropriations process. The Senate letter, authored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT), was signed by 22 Senators. In the House, the letter was authored by Reps. Glenn Thompson (PA) and Jim Langevin (RI), and was signed by a total of 65 Representatives.

At a time when Congress is looking to cut spending in all areas, letters such as these show appropriators the level of support among members for individual programs. While it is hard to predict what will happen with funding for any programs this year, we hope that these letters will resonate with the Appropriations Committees and will stave off further cuts to Perkins.

Bills Introduced

Rebuild America Act

Senator Tom Harkin (IA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has introduced S. 2252, the Rebuild America Act, aimed at restoring the middle class through investments in education, infrastructure and job training, and changes to the tax code. Among other things, the bill would:

 

 Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

 

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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Legislative Update: WIA, Budget

Friday, March 30th, 2012

House Introduces Workforce Investment Act

The House this week introduced a comprehensive Workforce Investment Act reauthorization proposal, H.R. 4297, The Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012. This builds upon three separate bills introduced earlier this session by Reps. Virginia Foxx (NC), Rep. Buck McKeon (CA), and Rep. Joe Heck (NV). Rep. Foxx’s earlier bill, the Streamlining Workforce Development Programs Act, allowed states to submit a unified 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. We shared our opposition to this proposal with the members of the Education and the Workforce Committee, and we are happy to report that new language was added to the Workforce Investment Improvement Act that singles out Perkins as the only program that cannot be consolidated in the unified state plan.

House Passes Budget Resolution

Yesterday the House passed the FY13 Budget Resolution introduced by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (WI) by a vote of 228 to 191. This proposal would cap federal spending at $1.028 trillion, which is $19 billion below levels set by the Budget Control Act and the level that the Senate is plans to use.  Such a large difference between the chambers sets up another potentially long and drawn out appropriations process.

Duncan Testifies Before Congress on Budget
This week, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testified before the House Education and Workforce Committee to discuss the Administration’s FY13 Budget, much like he did last week before the Appropriations Labor-HHS- Education Subcommittee.  There was push back from this committee about the focus in the President’s budget on new competitive grant programs, as opposed to the long-standing formula programs. Secretary Duncan also spoke about the value of community colleges and the need to increase capacity to meet the growing demand of individuals seeking to upgrade their skills.

 

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Legislation
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Legislative Update: Budget, ED Priorities, DOL Priorities

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

House Marks Up Budget Resolution

Rep. Paul Ryan Chairman of the House Budget Committee released his budget resolution this week, which will serve as a blueprint for the House as the appropriations process moves forward. The budget passed committee by a vote of 19-18. The resolution sets the FY13 discretionary cap at $1.028 trillion, which is $19 billion below the cap set by the Budget Control Act last summer. The proposal would cut education, training, employment, and social services programs by $16.4 billion, which is 22 percent below FY12 levels. The resolution specifically targets Federal job training and workforce programs, calling them duplicative, and proposing to streamline the system and consolidate existing programs into “career scholarship programs.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) has said that the Senate will adhere to the spending levels set in the Budget Control Act and will not release a budget resolution.

Secretary Duncan Testifies Before Congress

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testified before the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee yesterday to discuss the budget and policy priorities of Department of Education.  Duncan spoke about some CTE-specific proposals such as increased funding for career academies and community colleges. He also addressed the need to reauthorize the Perkins Act:

The Administration’s reauthorization proposal would transform CTE by increasing the focus on outcomes and career pathways that ensure that what students learn in school is more closely aligned with the demands of the 21st century economy, while creating stronger linkages between secondary and postsecondary education. The proposal would also promote innovation and reform in CTE.

A number of members, from both sides of the aisle, expressed concern that the President’s budget would cut or freeze existing programs, in exchange for funding new programs such as the Community College to Career Fund.

Secretary Solis Testifies Before Congress

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis testified before the House Education and the Workforce Committee this week about the budget and policy priorities of the Department of Labor. Solis began her testimony by saying that the labor market grew stronger last year, and that over 2 million private sector jobs were created, while the unemployment rate fell in 48 states. However, there is still work to be done and the President’s budget outlines the steps his administration intends to take to address unemployment and the skills gap.

As we told you after the President’s State of the Union address, he plans to create an “economy built to last,” founded on strengthening manufacturing, energy, education, and skills training for individuals. Secretary Solis outlined the proposed programs in the President’s budget that would help address these issues. For example, the Community College to Career Fund would help community colleges to partner with business and industry to develop training programs for workers to enter high growth and high demand industries that meet the needs of local employers.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

 

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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House Democrats Introduce Alternative WIA Bill

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Democratic members of the House Education and Workforce introduced their version of Workforce Investment Act (WIA) reauthorization this week. The bill, introduced by Reps. Ruben Hinojosa (TX), George Miller (CA), and John Tierney (MA), is similar to a draft WIA bill circulated in the Senate last summer. This bill is also considered an alternative to Republican WIA bills, such as Rep. Virginia Foxx’s (NC) Streamlining Workforce Development Programs Act.

The Democratic bill focuses on a number of issues raised in NASDCTEc’s WIA reauthorization recommendations, including sector-based strategies, adult career pathways, direct contracting with community colleges, common measures, and One Stop infrastructure funding. More information on the bill can be found here.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Legislation
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Legislative Update: FFA Before Congress, American Jobs Center

Friday, March 16th, 2012

FFA President Testifies before Congress

Yesterday, National FFA President Ryan Best testified before the Senate at a hearing on the 2012 Farm Bill. During his testimony, Best highlighted the successful projects being done by FFA students across the country. He also spoke about the importance of agriculture education and its role in preparing students for postsecondary education and careers in the agriculture industry. Best said that the Farm Bill should support farm programs that strengthen agriculture eduction.

Best is a junior at New Mexico State University majoring in agricultural and extension education.

American Jobs Center

In his State of the Union address in January, President Obama spoke about streamlining the workforce system in order to get people back to work more quickly in the jobs that exist today, and better prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow.  He said that he wants “to cut through the maze of confusing training programs, so that from now on, people…have one program, one website, and one place to go for all the information and help they need.”

To that end, the President is proposing the creation of the American Job Center, designed to be a single point of access to information and services from across the government for companies and individuals. This would include access to job retraining and education opportunities, skills and career development and counseling.

 

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Public Policy
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Legislative Update: Appropriations, Global Competitiveness

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Congress Seeks Support for Perkins Funding

As the FY13 appropriations process gets underway, Members of Congress in both the House and Senate are circulating “Dear Colleague” sign-on letters, asking other members to support Perkins Act funding. The House letter is authored by Congressional CTE Caucus co-chairs, Reps. Glenn Thompson (PA) and James Langevin (RI), and the Senate letter is led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT). After signatures have been collected, the letters will be sent to the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittees in the House and Senate.

Please contact your Members of Congress to ask them to sign the letters to support CTE funding. You can reach your Members of Congress by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. The deadline for the House letter is Friday, March 16 and the deadline for the Senate letter is March 23.

Senate Global Competitiveness Hearing Focuses on CTE

Yesterday the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held a hearing, The Key to America’s Global Competitiveness: A Quality Education, which is part of a series focused on rebuilding the middle-class. In his opening statement, Ranking Member Michael Enzi (WY) said that there is a major deficit of skilled workers in this country which threatens our ability to grow our economy. He went on to say, “The federal government does have a role to play in improving the education of our nation’s children through programs supported under the Head Start Act, the Elementary and Secondary Act, Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and the Higher Education Act.”

Dr. Richard Murnane from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education pointed out that not all high students want or need to pursue a four-year college degree: “Many want to enroll in two-year vocationally oriented education and training programs…Some want to pursue traditional trades such as plumber and electrician and others want to enter new trades, many related to technology and health. These trades, some old and some new, provide many opportunities to do valuable work and to earn a good living.” He was clear however, that all students should graduate college and career ready, because most jobs require some education or training beyond high school.

Chairman Tom Harkin (IA) asked the witnesses what the best way is to get business and industry to work with high schools to train students for jobs. Dr. Murnane said that career academies are doing this well by connecting schools with employers and helping students learn the technical and cognitive skills necessary to succeed in the workplace.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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