Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations provide moderate – but important – boost to workforce and education programs

By Katie Spiker, December 23, 2019

On December 20th, the President signed two omnibus Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 spending bills that included moderate increases in funding for most workforce and education programs. The package also includes spending priorities that direct the Department of Labor (DOL) to use funding to support community college capacity to deliver workforce programming and to better connect the public workforce system, educators, and employers in local industry partnerships.

Earlier this year, Congress agreed to a two-year budget deal that increased nondefense discretionary funding from 2019 levels by $24.5 billion for FY2020 and then another $5 billion increase in non-defense for 2021.

The final spending levels for DOL and Department of Education were lower than those proposed by the House L-HHS bill, passed on a party line vote prior to the two-year budget deal, and slightly higher than the draft Senate L-HHS bill released earlier this fall.

National Skills Coalition and partners in the Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce released a new brief earlier this year on the imperative for investing in the U.S. workforce and advocated through out the year for vital increases in workforce training and education programs. Final levels are consistent with calls for greater investment, but still fall far short of what the U.S. needs to ensure workers can access and succeed in programs that prepare them for good jobs that meet business’ needs in a global 21st century economy.

NSC applauds Congress for passing a final spending deal that funds the government through September 30, 2020 and that includes increases in funding for vital workforce and education programs.

Department of Labor

Programs under the Department of Labor received a two percent increase for FY2020. Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Title I State grant funding increased by $30 million and Title III Wagner Peyser grant funding increased by $5 million. The agreement increases JobCorps funding by $25 million and funding for apprenticeship grants up to $175 million, $15 million above FY2019 levels.

In accompanying text, language directs DOL to restrict this apprenticeship funding to registered apprenticeship programs and includes a mention that industry or sector partnerships are an important strategy to expand apprenticeship, consistent with the bipartisan PARTNERS Act.

The agreement includes a $50 million increase for Dislocated Worker National Reserve (DWNR). Report language directs the DOL to spend $10 million of this increase on a grant program for youth, supporting partnerships between youth serving organizations and workforce development boards. It also includes new $40 million for “Strengthening Community College Training Grants,” also included in the House L-HHS bill, which would provide grants of $1 million to $5 million to community colleges or partnerships between community colleges and other training providers to improve capacity to deliver workforce programming. This proposal is consistent with the Gateway to Careers Act, introduced earlier this year by Senators Hassan (D-NH), Young (R-IN), Kaine (D-VA) and Gardner (R-CO).

The bill level funds the Workforce Data Quality Initiative grants and includes slight increases for most of the WIOA National programs.

While any significant changes are unlikely in the next year, WIOA is up for reauthorization in 2020 and report language to the funding package offers insight in to policy maker priorities in those conversations. The report directs DOL to evaluate resilience training and trauma-informed practices for WIOA youth programming and submit a report by June. DOL is also instructed to submit a report on how states are using 10 percent reserved funds under DWNR funding as part of the department’s FY2021 budget justification.

Department of Education

Funding for programs under the Department of Education (Ed) increased 2.5 percent over FY2019 levels in the final package. This includes a $20 million increase for Career and Technical Education state grants and $15 million for Adult Education and Family Literacy state grants. The final agreement also includes an increase of the maximum Pell award to $6,345, $150 over 2019-2020 levels.

Throughout the final agreement and explanatory text, there are several recognitions of the role postsecondary education has to prepare students for and link programs to workforce needs. The bill includes new funding for $10 million for career pathway grants that connect secondary students with postsecondary education linked to job opportunities. Explanatory text also directs the Department of Education to allocate flexible funding to support higher funding levels and additional grants made to pay for support services for students and instructs Ed to request application for TRIO grants by end of 2019. While not attached to specific funding, explanatory text also includes a new provision that describes the importance of programs offered at Institutions of Higher Education that lead to industry recognized credentials in in-demand fields and are aligned with workforce needs.

FY 2020 – Authorized Levels Current Levels – FY 2019 FY2020 Funding Levels FY2020 funding levels compared to Current Levels
Department of Labor
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title 1 – State Forumla Grants $2,789,832,000 $2,819,832,000 $30,000,000
WIOA Adult $899,987,000 $845,556,000 $854,649,000 $9,093,000
WIOA Dislocated Worker $1,436,137,000* $1,040,860,000 $1,052,053,00 $11,193,000
WIOA Youth $963,837,000 $903,416,000 $913,130,000 $9,714,000
Wagner-Peyser / Employment Service Grants NA $663,052,000 $668,000,000 $5,000,000
Workforce Data Quality Inititative Grants NA $6,000,000 $6,000,000
Apprenticeship Grants NA $160,000,000 $175,000,000 $15,000,000
DW National Reserve NA $220,859,000 $270,859,00 $50,000,000
Native American Programs $54,137,000 $54,500,000 $55,000,000 $500,000
Ex-offender Activities NA $93,079,000 $98,079,000 $5,000,000
Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers $96,211,000 $88,896,000 $91,896,000 $3,000,000
Youth Build $91,087,000 $89,534,000 $94,534,000 $5,000,000
Senior Community Service Employment Programs NA $400,000,000 $405,000,000 $5,000,000
JobCorps $1,983,236,000 $1,718,655,000 $1,743,655,000 $25,000,000
Trade Adjustment Assistance $450,000,000 $450,000,000 $450,000,000
Department of Education
Career and Technical Education State Grants NA $1,262,598,000 $1,282,598,000 $20,000,000
Adult Education and Family Literacy State Grants $678,640,000 $641,955,000 $656,955,000 $15,000,000

*Combined State Grants and National Reserve Funding