Skills strategies included in more governors’ budget proposals

By Brooke DeRenzis, March 30, 2015

Over the past few months, governors have unveiled their spending plans for the upcoming fiscal year or biennium. Several of these budget proposals include support for strategies to close the skill gap. Since our blog on governors’ budgets last month, we’ve reviewed additional budget proposals that address strategies like sector partnerships, career pathways, and job-driven training.

Proposals by first-time governors in Pennsylvania and Maryland include support for existing state sector partnership programs. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf proposed $11.6 million for the state’s Industry Partnerships program – a nearly $10 million increase over the current funding level. Despite proposed cuts in other areas, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s FY 2016 budget maintained $4.5 million for the state’s Employment Advancement Right Now (EARN) program, which supports skills training developed by industry partnerships.

Governors in Minnesota, Connecticut, and Rhode Island proposed increased investments for career pathways. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton’s “Pathways to Prosperity” proposal would provide $12 million in the FY 2016-17 biennium to support career pathways programs that integrate remedial education with industry-focused skills training to help individuals with barriers to work find and keep family-supporting jobs. Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy’s FY 2016-2017 biennium budget proposal includes $1.5 million per year to expand the I-BEST program, which provides adult education in tandem with occupational skills training.

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo’s proposed FY 2016 budget includes new investments to expand high school students’ pathways to postsecondary credentials and degrees. A proposed $1.3 million for Prepare RI would allow high school students to concurrently earn college credits at no cost and $900,000 would lay the foundation for an accelerated high school-to-associate degree pathway informed by industry partners. Governor Raimondo also proposes new performance measures to focus existing workforce development funds more keenly on demand-driven training.

While Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker did not propose significant increases to workforce development funding in FY 2016, he signed an executive order establishing a Workforce Skills Cabinet chaired by the Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development to coordinate state agencies around the goal of closing the skill gap.

Governors’ budget proposals are now under review by state legislatures. Check NSC’s skills blog later this spring for updates on state budgets and legislation.