On Monday, President Obama formally kicked-off the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 budget and appropriation process by releasing his annual budget request to Congress. The request makes funding level recommendations to Congress for all federally funded programs, charts the course for the Administration’s policy priorities over the next year, and serves as a vehicle for new proposals the President would like to see enacted by the 114th Congress.
Overall the President proposed $74 billion in additional funding above and beyond the spending limits imposed by the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011— limits more commonly known as sequestration. These caps have come back into full force this year, after the Bipartisan Budget Agreement (BBA) of 2014 slightly expanded the overall caps for Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015. With these caps back in full effect for the upcoming 2016 fiscal year and beyond, the President’s budget request amounts to an overall increase of 7 percent over these mandatory spending limits with increases for both defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) split nearly evenly.
The President’s proposal to set spending levels above these caps is significant as we approach the budget and appropriations cycle for the upcoming fiscal year. Without changes to sequestration there is little room for further investment in education and other critically important programs. As a consequence the President’s budget proposal is a strong message to Congress that more needs to be done to address these harmful mandated limits on federal investment.
In light of this, the President’s request proposes $70.7 billion in discretionary spending for the U.S. Department of Education (ED) which is an increase of $3.6 billion over enacted FY 2015 levels or 5.4 percent overall. The U.S Department of Labor (DOL) saw an overall proposal of $13.2 billion for their discretionary budget which is an increase of $1.2 billion over the last fiscal year or a 10.3 percent increase.
Of particular significance to the CTE community was an additional $200 million proposal for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins)— an increase that would be realized through the creation of the American Technical Training Fund (ATTF), a newly proposed competitive grant program to, “support the development and operation of innovative, evidence-based job training programs in high-demand fields” to be jointly administered by both ED and DOL. While an additional $2 million was proposed to be included for Perkins’ national activities to provide technical assistance for the ATTF, no new funding was proposed by the administration for the formula-based basic state grant program— the core program under Perkins which still remains approximately $5 million below pre-sequestration spending levels.
In addition to the initiatives noted above, the President’s request also includes several other proposals of interest to the CTE stakeholder community contained in both the ED and DOL budgets:
- $60.3 billion over ten years for America’s College Promise proposal— an initiative to provide free tuition for qualifying students for their first two years of postsecondary education
- A new $125 million competitive grant program to promote the high school re-design efforts with a particular focus on STEM-themed schools and focused on underrepresented student populations
- $2 billion over the next four years for apprenticeship grants, including $100 million for the American Apprenticeship Grant Program, the successor program to the Youth Career Connect Program
- $500 million for Industry Credentialing and Career Pathways Grants— a competitive program that would encourage the wider use of industry-recognized credentials
- $33 million in additional funding for the Workforce Data Quality Initiative— an existing program to support the development and expansion of state longitudinal data systems
NASDCTEc and the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE) released a statement upon the request’s release expressing appreciation for the budget’s stronger focus on CTE issues. Find the press release here.
More information on ED’s budget can be found here and additional coverage of DOL’s budget is here. It is important to note that this is only the beginning of the FY 2016 budget and appropriations process. The budgetary baton has now been passed to the House and Senate budget committees who must now craft a similar proposal outlining funding levels for federal programs in the coming fiscal year. As that gets underway, check back here for updates and analysis for how the CTE community will likely be impacted.
Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager