Legislative Update: House Begins Appropriations Process and President Campaign Addresses CTE


Legislative Update: House Begins Appropriations Process and President Campaign Addresses CTE

This week the House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies released a Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations bill, which includes funding for Career Technical Education (CTE). Read below to learn more about this bill, as well as the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force recommendations for the 2020 presidential campaign. 
House Proposes Increase for Fiscal Year 2021 CTE Funding 
Written by Alisha Hyslop, Senior Director of Public Policy, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Full post can be found here
On July 6, the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 appropriations bill. According to the Committee’s press release, the bill includes “$196.5 billion in overall funding, an increase of $2.4 billion above the FY 2020 enacted level and $20.8 billion above the President’s 2021 budget request after accounting for offsets and adjustments.” Policymakers were limited to the approximately 1.22% increase due to statutory budget caps that had been agreed to by both chambers last year.

However, even with this very modest overall increase, there was some good news for CTE in the bill! While the funding level proposed for Perkins does not match the amount suggested by the Administration earlier this year, the bill proposes an $18 million, or 1.4% increase for the Perkins basic state grant, bringing its total funding level to approximately $1.3 billion.

Under the Department of Labor, the bill also includes small increases for WIOA state grant programs, registered apprenticeships and Strengthening Community College Training Grants, among other programs, with a total budget of $10.2 billion for the Employment and Training Administration (a $187 million increase) and $12.7 billion overall (a $254 million increase).

This is the first official congressional step toward funding these programs for the next fiscal year, which begins on October 1. The process has been significantly delayed due to attention on the pandemic response, but is now expected to move forward relatively quickly in the House. The Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee marked up the bill on July 7, and the full Appropriations Committee will consider it on Monday. House leaders have expressed interest in passing all 12 appropriations bills, including this one, on the House floor before the August recess. The process remains stalled in the Senate however, so it is likely one or more continuing resolutions will be needed to extend funding at the end of the fiscal year.

While the Perkins increase in the bill doesn’t come close to meeting the funding needs for CTE, particularly as a result of the pandemic, it is a solid first step in this process considering restrictive budget caps. We will continue to work with Congress on appropriations bills and on the next COVID-19 response package to advocate for more resources to ensure all students have access to high-quality CTE programs. 
Biden Announces Unity Task Force Recommendations
This week, former Vice President Joe Biden released new policy recommendations as part of his presidential campaign platform. These recommendations were developed through joint task forces that included Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and supporters of his most recent presidential campaign. The Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force Recommendations include policy proposals on issues such as climate change, criminal justice reform and health care. The proposals also cover education, workforce development and the economy- including CTE strategies. The document states that the campaign “will work to expand access to career and technical education” and that the country’s education system should support deeper learning and life skills. CTE, and apprenticeships in particular, are also listed as a way to increase opportunities for lifelong learning. The Education Unity Task Force, comprised of eight education experts and advocates, specifically recommends that education funding allow for the scaling of CTE.  
Meredith Hills, Policy Associate