Posts Tagged ‘middle class’

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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President Focuses on Education and Skills Training in State of the Union

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

In his State of the Union address last night President Obama called keeping the middle class alive “the defining issue of our time.” Throughout his speech, he set out proposals to foster an economy “built to last” predicated on education, a skilled workforce, high-paying jobs, energy independence and fairness that would help bolster the middle class.

The President highlighted the skills gap that exists in industries such as manufacturing, information technology and clean energy: “Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do the job.” In an effort to solve this problem, he called for a national commitment to train two million individuals with the skills they need to land a job, with a focus on partnerships between businesses and community colleges. The President is scheduled to release his FY13 budget on February 13. We hope that his commitment to address the skills gap and provide resources for unemployed individuals will be reflected in his proposal for Perkins Act funding.

President Obama also focused on the current job training system, saying 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.” His hope is that streamlining the system will get people back to work more quickly in the jobs that exist today, and better prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow. While he does not mention the Workforce Investment Act specifically, the program has been due for reauthorization since 2003 and has been top priority for the both the House and the Senate this session. Given the President’s mention of the workforce system, we are hopeful that this signals a desire to reauthorize WIA in the coming year.

The President also touched on other education issues such as high school dropouts, calling on states to require students to stay in school until graduation or until they turn 18. In terms of college access and affordability, the President urged Congress to keep student interest rates low and extend the tuition tax credit. He also asked institutions of higher education to keep costs down and was blunt in his commitment to making postsecondary education more affordable, saying, “If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down.”

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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CTE: A Gateway to the Middle Class

Friday, June 19th, 2009

In his remarks at the Green Jobs Summit (June 17, 2009), Vice President Biden commented “a job is more than a paycheck. A job is about pride. A job is about dignity. A job is about respect.”  He made these comments in the context of sharing information about the Middle Class Taskforce  he is leading.

After the summit, the word respect kept lingering in my mind and inspired me to write this blog post. Remember Rodney Dangerfield’s infamous saying  I get “no respect.”  CTE also doesn’t get the respect that it deserves.  Still burdened with the yoke of the image of dirty shop class where you send other people’s kids, CTE is too often portrayed in the sterotypical way.  And then there is Arthea Franklin’s toe-tapping song “R-E-S-P-E-C-T“; what do we have to do to earn “just a little bit?”  Perhaps we in CTE can use this opportunity to rally our efforts, be proactive and help the Vice President achieve his goal for more Americans to gain access to the middle class and earn ‘a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T’ while we are at it.

So here is what I propose –  a message to Vice President Biden —

Mr. Vice President, 

We agree with your comments made at the Green Jobs Summit. We must help more Americans realize your goal of finding jobs that offer pride, dignity and respect and give them a chance at being part of the middle class.

Career technical education (CTE) has helped millions of Americans find pride, dignity and respect through a career that provides a family sustaining wage. We stand ready to do more but we need your help.

Help us change the perception of the careers that keep America strong. Careers like those in fields of transportation, manufacturing, construction, and health care. These are all careers that support our nation’s security, ensure quality of life and stimulate our economy. Help us help more Americans achieve your goal by investing in CTE! 

By Kimberly Green in Public Policy