President Trump’s FY 2021 Budget is a Mixed Bag for our Nation’s Workforce

By Ayobami Olugbemiga, February 10, 2020

Washington, D.C. — The following is a statement from Kermit Kaleba, managing director of policy at National Skills Coalition, on President Donald Trump’s FY 2021 proposed budget:

The President’s budget is a mixed bag for our nation’s workforce. We’re pleased to see the $680 million increase in state grants for career and technical education – this will go a long way towards helping more students, including adult learners, get the skills and credentials they need to succeed in a 21st century economy. It is also encouraging that the budget includes expanding Pell grants to short-term programs consistent with the bipartisan JOBS Act and a small funding increase to adult education programs.

But we’re disappointed that the budget proposes eliminating several Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) national programs, including the Workforce Data Quality Initiative grants and funding for Native American Programs and Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers. This proposed elimination is coupled with proposed level funding for state workforce grants, which has been cut by 40% over the past two decades.

We also find it alarming that the budget calls for nearly $200 billion in cuts to SNAP, more than $20 billion in cuts to TANF, and an expansion of work requirements for Medicaid – another $150 billion in cuts over ten years. This is problematic not only because low-income workers rely on these benefits to support their families, but also because we know that many individuals on public assistance programs could benefit from better access to high-quality education and training. Reducing access to these programs means those families are far less likely to get that training.

We shouldn’t be trying to achieve budget savings on the backs of families who are trying to put food on the table. We should be more focused on strengthening SNAP Employment and Training (SNAP E&T) programs and TANF so that families who depend on these programs have access to high-quality education and training opportunities.

Even if Congress is unlikely to adopt these proposals, these cuts send a deeply disturbing message that the Trump administration is willing to balance the budget on the backs of our most vulnerable populations.