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Following the release of President Obama’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 budget request to Congress earlier this month, National Skills Coalition has provided an analysis of key workforce and education funding requests under the Departments of Labor, Education, Health and Human Services, and Treasury.
The Administration’s FY 2015 budget proposal stays within the spending levels for 2015 established under the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) crafted by Senate and House budget committee chairs Patty Murray (D-WA) and Paul Ryan (D-WI) in late 2013. The budget agreement established topline spending levels for FY 2014 and 2015 that lifted spending above post-sequestration levels for both years while ensuring that spending was still within the discretionary spending caps established by the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA). The BBA provides $63 billion in sequestration relief over two years, divided evenly between defense and non-defense. The agreement is front-loaded with about $45 billion in sequester relief in 2014, undoing nearly two-thirds of the NDD sequester, but then nearly three-quarters of the planned NDD sequester cuts will go back into effect in 2015.
Although President Obama’s budget stays within the established topline spending levels for 2015, it also acknowledges the reality that we simply cannot meet the needs of the nation without additional investments in key priorities, including a skilled workforce. Therefore, the budget proposal also includes an additional $56 billion for an “Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative,” (OGSI)—divided evenly between discretionary defense and non-defense programs—that would allow for additional investments for the president’s domestic and national security priorities. The non-defense side of the OGSI focuses on six key areas: education and job training; research and innovation; infrastructure and jobs; opportunity and mobility; public health, safety and security; and more efficient and effective government. Importantly, this initiative is entirely paid for—half through new revenue and half through savings in mandatory spending—and would not violate existing spending caps. Additionally, the budget request seeks to replace sequestration starting in FY 2016 with a balanced deficit reduction strategy of $1.2 trillion.
While it is highly unlikely that Congress will take up the Administration’s budget, it still provides an important marker for spending levels and signals the Administration’s priorities for the coming year. At a minimum, it should serve as a reminder to policymakers that federal workforce programs are critical to ensuring that U.S. workers and businesses have the skills they need to compete in today’s global economy.
National Skills Coalition applauds the president’s focus on job-driven training in his FY 2015 budget, and for providing new investments to support proven training strategies, including industry partnerships.