Senators urge skills funding in FY 2013 budget.

February 08, 2012

On February 7, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and thirteen other Senators sent a joint letter to the President’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB), urging the Administration to ensure that the Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 budget request includes adequate investments in Pell Grants and job training and adult education programs under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).

In addition to Senator Blumenthal, Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Jon Tester (D-MT), John Rockefeller (D-WV), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Al Franken (D-MN), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Mark Begich (D-AK), Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Daniel Akaka (D-HI) signed on to the letter.

The President will submit his FY 2013 budget recommendations to Congress on Monday, February 13. While the President’s budget is not binding on Congress, it plays a critical role in the annual appropriations cycle, establishing a starting point for debates over federal spending levels and signaling the administration’s priorities for the coming year. Given the more than $1 billion in cuts to federal workforce programs in FY 2011 and 2012, and recent changes in Pell Grant eligibility that will reduce or eliminate access for hundreds of thousands of low-income college students, it is more important than ever that the President’s budget includes a strong vision for investing in the skills of the U.S. workforce.

To that end, the letter calls on the Administration to deliver a budget that will:

  • Restore funding for WIA Title I job training programs—including the Adult, Dislocated Worker, and Youth formula grants—to at least FY 2010 levels. At a minimum, the budget request should maintain current funding levels for these programs, and reject any proposals to consolidate or otherwise modify WIA funding that would have the effect of reducing overall funding for workforce development or otherwise limiting access to services for jobseekers or employers.
  • Maintain current funding levels for adult education state grants under Title II.
  • Provide new funding to support innovative state and local workforce development strategies, such as subsidized employment, summer jobs, industry partnerships, and other strategies identified in Blumenthal’s Pathways Back to Work Act (S. 1861).
  • Maintain the current maximum Pell Award, and reject any further funding cuts or programmatic changes to Pell that would reduce access to postsecondary education and training for working adults and other non-traditional students.

National Skills Coalition thanks these Senators for their leadership and support on this vital issue. We look forward to working with the Administration and Congress to restore federal funding for workforce development programs and ensure that all workers and business have the skills to compete in today’s economy.