Skills investments featured in governors’ budget proposals

By Brooke DeRenzis, February 19, 2015

Several governors have proposed investments in skills strategies as part of their budgets for the upcoming fiscal year. Proposals include continued funding for existing skills programs, investments that would better link adult education and workforce training, and strategies for spending statewide discretionary funds under the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

Budgets proposed by governors in Iowa and Idaho renew commitments to their states’ existing skills strategy.

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad’s Fiscal Years 2016-2017 budget maintains funding levels for the state’s Pathways for Academic Career and Employment (PACE) and Gap Tuition Assistance programs. PACE funds sector-specific career pathway projects provided through partnerships between community colleges, industry, and nonprofits. The Gap Tuition Assistance program helps community colleges provide need-based tuition assistance to students in certificate training programs for in-demand occupations. Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget proposal provides $5 million for the state’s Sector Grant program. The grants support sector-specific training developed by partnerships between employers and Idaho’s postsecondary institutions.

Governors in California and Ohio proposed investments aimed at coordinating adult education with workforce training.

In 2014, Ohio piloted a program to help adults earn a high school diploma while participating in training leading to an industry-recognized credential. Governor Kasich’s Fiscal Years 2016-2017 budget includes funding to expand the program to as many as five additional sites.

California Governor Jerry Brown’s 2015-2016 budget proposal includes $500 million for the Adult Education Block Grant to increase adult education capacity and support collaboration between adult education, workforce development, and social service providers. The grants will be planned and allocated by committees representing community colleges, K‑12 districts, other adult education providers, local workforce investment boards, county social services departments, correctional rehabilitation programs, and one public member with relevant expertise.

Both Governor Brown and Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe used their budget proposals to highlight skills strategies they will promote with discretionary funds available to governors under WIOA.

Governor Brown will use WIOA discretionary funds to support two initiatives in California:  SlingShot, which gives grants to develop innovative workforce development, training, employer engagement, and career education approaches at the regional level, and Regional Workforce Accelerator Program Grants, which provide job training, support services, and job placement assistance to jobseekers who may have barriers to employment. In presenting his budget to the state legislature, Governor McAuliffe announced that he would direct $1.1 million in WIOA discretionary dollars toward credential attainment.

Continue to check out our blog for analysis as more governors and legislatures roll out their budget proposals.