President Obama’s 2016 Budget Invests in Skills

By Kermit Kaleba, February 02, 2015

On February 2, President Obama unveiled his fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget request, outlining the Administration’s spending priorities for federal programs and activities, beginning October 1, 2015.

The FY 2016 budget proposes significant new investments in education and training, as well as enhanced support for existing programs. The budget builds on the recent passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the administration’s job-driven training action plan, and proposals the President announced leading up to and during the State of the Union address on January 20. During the State of the Union address, President Obama outlined an agenda focused on “middle-class economics. As part of that agenda, the president is focused on expanding opportunities to all Americans to improve their skills, through a series of initiatives designed to deliver access to middle-skill credentials for millions of students and working people.

While the President’s budget is unlikely to be taken up by the Republican Congress, it does serve as an important benchmark for the Administration’s priorities and future federal investments. This analysis includes key education and training requests, but is not exhaustive.

Click here for the in-depth analysis or read the prelimary analysis below. 

Department of Labor

New Investments in Education and Training

High Growth Sector Training and Credentialing Grants this mandatory-funded $16 billion, ten-year program would fund regional partnerships creating training programs aligned to in-demand jobs. The grants would increase the number of workers receiving training, provide intensive services to the long-term unemployed, and would help drive industry adoption of credentials and assessments. The fund would include $500 million in grants to develop credentialing and assessment frameworks, including $300 million targeted at information technology jobs across industries.

Connecting for Opportunity Initiative – this new mandatory proposal would make available $3 billion over four years to create education and employment opportunities for disconnected youth ages 16-24. The initiative would provide $1.5 billion for subsidized youth summer and year-round jobs, and $1.5 billion for grants to municipalities to reengage disconnected youth in education and career pathways. This initiative would be jointly administered by the Departments of Labor and Education.

Apprenticeship Training Fund – this $2.2 billion mandatory fund would provide $1.5 billion in funding to states to increase employer participation in registered apprenticeship, and $500 million in competitive grants to help states link apprenticeships to other educational pathways.

Licensing Reforms – the administration proposes $15 million for grants to states to reduce barriers to labor market entry or mobility that may be imposed by occupational licensing requirements.

WIOA Technical Assistance – the administration proposes $3.2 million to support technical assistance to states and localities as they implement WIOA.
Apprenticeship Grants – the administration requests $100 million to expand apprenticeships, building off of the recent American Apprenticeship Initiative, which was supported by H-1B visa fees.

Support for Existing Programs

WIOA Adult Formula Grants – the administration requests $815.6 million for the WIOA adult program, $38.9 million above FY 2015 levels. The administration would maintain the governor’s reserve for statewide activities at 10 percent across all three formula grants.

WIOA Dislocated Worker Formula Grants the administration requests $1.02 billion, $5 million above FY 2014 levels.
WIOA Youth Formula Grants – the administration requests $873.4 million, $41.6 million above FY 2015 enacted levels, to help respond to high needs among youth for job placement, career counseling, and skills training services.

Wagner-Peyser Employment Services the administration requests $1.064 billion in Employment Service state grants, a $400 million increase over the FY 2015 enacted level. The additional $400 million would support supplemental grants to states for intensive reemployment services to dislocated workers.

Workforce Data Quality Initiative and State Data Longitudinal Systems Grants – the administration requests $37 million, an increase of $33 million over FY 2015 levels for WDQI grants, and $70 million for SLDS grants. For more information on the President’s workforce data requests, see the Workforce Data Quality Campaign blog.

Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) – the budget includes a legislative proposal to reauthorize TAA. The program was recently extended, but will absent further congressional action, will expire at the end of the fiscal year. The administration proposes reauthorizing TAA under legislation similar to the 2011 program, with some elements of the 2009 program. The legislation would authorize $575 million for training.

Reintegration of Ex-Offenders – the budget requests $96 million, an increase of $13 million over FY 2015 enacted levels. The additional resources would support expanded programs serving adult and juvenile offenders, transitioning offenders, and would support community partnerships piloting a Law Enforcement Services Career Pathways Program for at-risk youth ages 16-18.

Indian and Native American Program – the budget requests $50 million, an increase of $4 million over the FY 2015 enacted levels.

Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers Program – the budget requests $81.9 million, consistent with FY 2015 levels.

Department of Education

New Investments in Education and Training

America’s College Promise – the budget includes new details on the America’s College Promise program, which designates $60 billion in mandatory funding over ten years to make up to two years of community college free for all interested individuals who meet certain eligibility requirements. The administration estimates that this investment could impact up to 9 million students nationwide. The administration would cover approximately 75 percent of the program cost (as determined by formula), while states that decide to opt-in to the program would provide the remaining 25 percent. The program would be open to “responsible” individuals who are enrolled in qualifying programs on at least a half-time basis, maintain at least a 2.5 GPA, and make steady progress toward program completion. Funds could be used to support enrollment in either academic programs that fully transfer to public four-year colleges and universities, or for occupational training programs with high graduation rates that lead to certificates or degrees in demand by employers. Participating states would also commit to maintaining support for current investments in higher education, improve coordination between secondary and postsecondary systems to reduce the need for remediation, and allocate at least some funding on the basis of performance, rather than enrollment.

American Technical Training Fund – this new $200 million fund would support up to 100 innovative training programs at community colleges and other institutions designed to help low-wage workers gain the skills necessary for advancement in middle-skill occupations and industries. Building on lessons learned through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grants, the proposed fund would support the implementation and expansion of programs that have strong employer partnerships, are structured to accommodate part-time work, and provide work-based learning and accelerated training opportunities. The initiative would be funded through the career and technical education (CTE) Innovation Fund, under the Carl D. Perkins Act.

Support for Existing Programs

Career and Technical Education – the administration requests $1.3 billion for CTE state grants, an increase of $200 million over FY 2015, which the administration would use to finance the new American Technical Training Fund. The budget also proposes reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Act and reiterates and expands upon the blueprint for reform released by the Department of Education in 2012.

Adult Education State Grants – the budget proposes $569 million for adult basic and literacy education state grants, consistent with FY 2015 funding levels. The budget also requests a $6 million increase to adult education national leadership activities to support WIOA implementation and help states meet the WIOA requirement to align content standards with Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and provide technical assistance to states in the collection of new data elements, integrating data systems, and meeting new reporting requirements.

Pell Grants – the administration requests $22.5 billion for federal Pell grants, consistent with FY 2015 discretionary funding levels. The program will also be supported by $6.46 billion in mandatory funding in FY 2016. The total maximum award for the 2015-2016 academic year will be $5,775.