Legislative Update: FY23 Budget Released as House Moves Forward With WIOA

This week the Biden Administration formally published its annual Congressional budget request for federal fiscal year 2023 (FY23). Meanwhile, lawmakers in the House introduced legislation to reauthorize the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) while U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona urged stakeholders to use pandemic aid funding to address nationwide teacher shortages and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a new study on Career Technical Education (CTE). In addition, Advance CTE continues to encourage its members and partners to support legislation to improve learner access to Pell Grants for high-quality, short-term postsecondary CTE programs. Finally, be sure to encourage your Senators and Representatives to join the House and Senate CTE Caucuses if they have not already done so! 

President Biden Releases Disappointing FY23 Budget Request 

On Monday, March 28, President Biden published his Administration’s FY23 budget request to Congress. The $5.8 trillion budget proposal would provide a nearly 21 percent increased investment for the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and an 18 percent increase for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). While these topline figures are encouraging, this budget was developed and published before Congress enacted final full-year funding for the previous federal fiscal year (FY22). Because of this timing ED has requested an effective $25 million decrease in investment for the Carl D. Perkins Act’s (Perkins V) basic state grant program. Since the publication of this budget request, ED has framed this (and other proposed reductions in funding for education and workforce programs) as “artificial cuts,” publicly maintaining that they support enacted FY22 funding levels in instances where the budget request fell short of FY22 funding totals.

Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) released a statement expressing significant disappointment in this budget request. The statement also calls into question the budget request’s proposed creation of a new $200 million competitive grant program as part of a new “Career-connected High Schools” initiative. 

Despite these disappointing elements in the President’s proposed budget, Advance CTE looks forward to working with partners in Congress to ensure robust funding levels for Perkins V formula grants. The full ED budget summary can be found here and more detailed justifications for individual requests can be found here. DOL’s summary can be found here, along with more detailed information here

House Democrats Release WIOA Reauthorization Proposal 

For the last year, lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been quietly considering making updates to WIOA– the nation’s primary workforce development law. Yesterday, March 31, Democrats on the House Education and Labor Committee released a comprehensive proposal to reauthorize this law. While Advance CTE is still analyzing this legislation, the organization is encouraged to see a number of its priorities reflected in this draft. 

Most particularly, the proposal would make significant improvements to the sharing of one-stop center infrastructure costs and would also provide greater flexibilities, along with improved coordination, with regards to youth workforce funding. In addition, the proposal would make notable improvements to the law’s underlying data infrastructure, softening an existing prohibition on the creation of a national database to more effectively understand and evaluate the impact WIOA-funded programs and services have on individuals and communities. 

As mentioned, Advance CTE is still in the process of analyzing all aspects of this draft proposal and looks forward to working with the committee to further improve and refine this legislation. A committee markup of the legislation is expected to be scheduled soon. 

Secretary Cardona Encourages States to Use ARP Funding to Address Teacher Shortages

On Monday, March 28, the U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona called on education stakeholders to make use of funding provided by the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to address persistent and widespread teacher shortages. With the use of  ARP funds, Secretary Cardona urged states, postsecondary leaders, districts and schools to consider establishing evidence-based teacher residency programs, creating registered apprenticeship programs for the teaching profession, and increasing teacher compensation along with a slew of other proposals. The full announcement can be found here

GAO Publishes Study on CTE 

On Wednesday, March 30, the GAO published a new study examining CTE programs, strategies, and related challenges. The publication interviewed stakeholders from Delaware, Georgia, Ohio and Washington, including representatives from national organizations. The study looked at how stakeholders are using federal CTE funding, the challenges they currently face, and how these efforts are aligned with other education and workforce development efforts. Among several findings, researchers found that learners have experienced significant challenges in accessing CTE programs due to the lack of federal financial aid eligibility for nondegree postsecondary programs. 

To more effectively address this longstanding inequity, Advance CTE and its partners have continued to advocate for the enactment of the Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act – legislation that would make long-overdue improvements to the federal Pell Grant program by expanding eligibility for high-quality shorter-term postsecondary CTE programs. As lawmakers continue to negotiate and craft forthcoming legislation to increase the competitiveness of the American economy, this reform would significantly enhance the nation’s ability to provide pathways for workers and learners to earn valuable postsecondary credentials needed in today’s economy. 

To help ensure lawmakers understand the importance of this legislation and the role it has in ensuring that postsecondary education is truly working for everyone, Advance CTE encourages state and local CTE affiliates, including individual nonprofit CTE institutions serving postsecondary learners, to sign-on in support of this letter ahead of anticipated legislative action later this year. Please share and add your support by April 13! 

Encourage Lawmakers to Join CTE Caucuses 

In conjunction with the House and Senate CTE Caucuses, Advance CTE and ACTE are working to encourage Senators and Representatives over the next several weeks to join their respective CTE Caucuses, if they have not done so already. Membership in these caucuses is an important way for lawmakers to signal their support for CTE and the millions of learners across the country who enroll in these programs. To encourage your Senator or member of Congress to join, click here and scroll down to the request form corresponding to your needs.

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor

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