NSC releases analyses of HR 4297.

April 05, 2012

UPDATED 04.11.2012: National Skills Coalition has prepared a chart of federal workforce and education programs that would be consolidated or eliminated under HR 4297, including FY 2012 funding levels.

On March 29, Higher Education and Workforce Training subcommittee Chair Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV), and Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) introduced the Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012 (HR 4297), which essentially combines three WIA reauthorization bills—the “Streamlining Workforce Development Programs Act of 2011” (HR 3610), the “Local Job Opportunities and Business Success Act” (HR 3611), and the “Workforce Investment Improvement Act” (HR 2295)—previously released by Foxx, Heck, and McKeon, respectively.  National Skills Coalition has prepared analyses of Title I (Workforce Investments Systems), Title II (Adult Education and Family Literacy Education) and Title IV (Repeals and Conforming Amendments) of the combined bill.

HR 4297 would consolidate more than two dozen existing federal workforce programs (including current WIA formula and national programs, Wagner-Peyser Employment Services, SNAP E&T, Job Corps, and others) into a single $6 billion Workforce Investment Fund, which would be allocated to states and localities by formula. In addition, the bill would:

  • Eliminate all current membership requirements for state and local workforce boards, except for certain requirements relating to business and economic development representation, and locally elected officials;
  • Eliminate provisions relating to automatic designation of local workforce areas, allowing state boards to designate local areas in consultation with the governor;
  • Reduce the governor’s set-aside for statewide activities from 15 percent to 5 percent of a state’s Workforce Investment Fund allotment, effectively codifying a provision that was included in the FY 2011 and 2012 appropriations bills;
  • Require states to reserve no more than 18 percent of Workforce Investment Fund allotments for new State Youth Challenge Grants;
  • Require states to reserve 2 percent of Workforce Investment Fund allotments for grants to serve adults with barriers to employment;
  • Eliminate the requirement that local WIBs give priority for services to low-income individuals;
  • Authorize states to develop unified state plans, and consolidate funding for other federal training and social services programs—including funding for TANF, Trade Adjustment Assistance, Community Services Block Grants, and programs under state unemployment compensation laws—into such state plans;
  • Mandate a minimum percentage of local area allocations that must be used for training services; and
  • Set common performance measures for the Workforce Investment Fund, adult education programs under Title II, and Vocational Rehabilitation programs under Title IV.

It is expected that the Education and the Workforce committee will take up HR 4297 by early May, and will likely bring the bill to the House floor soon thereafter. The Senate is not expected to take up the House bill this year.

National Skills Coalition strongly supports efforts to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the nation’s workforce investment system, and supports innovation at the state and local level. However, we urge Congress to ensure that any final WIA reauthorization bill does not lead to further funding cuts for workforce development, or reduce access to needed training and employment services for U.S. workers, jobseekers, youth, and businesses. We will continue to provide updates on WIA reauthorization efforts as new information becomes available.