Legislative Update: President Obama Delivers State of the Union Address

CapitolLast night President Obama delivered his penultimate State of the Union (SOTU) address to Congress. In his remarks, the President laid out an ambitious agenda for the remainder of his term which he dubbed “middle-class economics”— a series of domestic policy proposals the administration will seek to implement over the next two years to support a stronger middle class.

Touching on issues ranging from immigration, tax reform, infrastructure investment, foreign policy and energy, the President touted recent positive trends in the economy declaring that “our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999.”

Although the speech did not touch on education and workforce development issues as much as his past addresses have, the President did devote significant attention to the Administration’s broader skills agenda. As expected, the Administration’s recently announced America’s College Promise proposal was a central feature in last night’s remarks. “By the end of this decade, two in three job openings will require some higher education” said the President before emphasizing that “this plan is your chance to graduate ready for the new economy, without a load of debt. That’s why I am sending this Congress a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college – to zero.”

President Obama also referenced Vice President Joe Biden’s ongoing Job-Driven Training efforts, an announcement that was made during last year’s State of the Union address. He went on to highlight the importance of employers partnering with the education system to “train workers to fill high-paying jobs like coding, and nursing, and robotics” before going on to call for more companies like CVS and UPS to offer apprenticeships and other work-based learning opportunities.

Although Career Technical Education (CTE) was not directly mentioned during last night’s State of the Union, CTE still had a significant presence in the Congressional chamber where the President delivered his remarks. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) brought Lisa Barnett, a CTE coordinator for Botetourt County public school system, as his guest for the annual convening in the Capitol. First Lady Michelle Obama also brought Katrice Mubiru, a CTE instructor for the Los Angeles unified school district, as a guest last night. Two other postsecondary CTE students were also in attendance from Tennessee and North Carolina respectively.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager 

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