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Trump FY 2018 Budget Slashes Funding for Key Workforce, Education, Human Services Programs

This morning, the Trump Administration released the President’s detailed budget proposals for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, calling for dramatic cuts to a range of federal programs, including steep reductions in funding for key workforce, education, and human services programs. While the proposed cuts were not unexpected – the Administration had released a so-called “skinny” budget in March that highlighted topline cuts to many agency budgets – the budget documents released today provide more specific information about the Administration’s policy priorities.

Though Congress is not expected to adopt all of the President’s proposals, the budget sets an unfortunate baseline for policymakers as they begin the FY 2018 budget and appropriations process. The budget includes a range of recommendations for reducing federal support for means-tested public assistance programs, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which could be included to offset tax cuts as part of a budget reconciliation package later this year. Appropriators will also be under pressure to provide some cuts to discretionary programs, including training services authorized under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act, despite the strong bipartisan support for these critical programs.

Department of Labor. Overall, the President’s budget calls for $9.6 billion in funding for DOL, a cut of $2.5 billion (21 percent) relative to the levels under the FY 2017 omnibus. The budget calls for significant reductions in funding for key workforce programs under WIOA, which was reauthorized by Congress in 2014. The budget calls for cuts of approximately $1 billion from the three state formula grants under Title I of WIOA, cutting WIOA Adult from $816 million to $490 million, Dislocated Worker state grants from just over $1 billion to $615 million, and reducing youth grants from $873 million to $416 million. Overall, the formula grant cuts represent about a 40 percent reduction from current funding levels, which would have devastating impacts on states and local communities seeking to address the skill needs of businesses and jobseekers.

The budget also proposes eliminating several national programs administered by DOL, including the Workforce Data Quality initiative that provides states with funding to strengthen data systems; the migrant and seasonal farmworker grant program; and the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). Dislocated Worker National Reserve grants are reduced by a little more than $100 million, and the budget proposes more modest reductions to a range of other national programs, including cuts of about $5 million for apprenticeship grants and $10 million for ex-offender grants. Wagner-Peyser Employment Services (ES) state grants under WIOA Title III would be cut by about $256 million, nearly 40 percent below current levels.

The budget proposes providing local workforce boards the ability to transfer up to 100 percent of funds allocated for adult programs to youth activities and 100 percent of funds allocated for youth activities to adult activities. It also would provide the Secretary of Labor the authority to waive administrative and reporting requirements, with the justification of improving efficiency and reducing administrative costs to local areas.

Department of Education. The Department of Education would be funded at $59 billion under the President’s budget, a cut of $9 billion (13 percent) relative to FY 2017 levels. The proposal would make significant cuts to a number of key programs that help low-income and other individuals obtain the skills necessary to compete in today’s workforce, including cuts of roughly $168 million for career and technical education state grants under the Carl D. Perkins CTE Act – a reduction of 15 percent against current funding; $96 million in cuts (or about 16 percent) to adult education state grants under WIOA Title II; and more than $500 million in cuts to the federal work-study program that can provide income support and work experience for lower-income college students. The budget proposes eliminating the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), which provides about $730 million in additional assistance to students with significant financial needs. 

The budget does include funding for the Pell Grant program, which provides financial aid to lower-income students, including funding to support “year-round Pell” awards that allow individuals to receive more than one grant in an academic year. Congress had restored year-round Pell in the FY 2017 omnibus appropriations package that was completed earlier this month. The budget would provide sufficient funding to support the maximum grant award at $5,920, but would rescind $3.9 billion in prior year funding, which may impact the financial stability of the program in future years.

Department of Agriculture. One of the most sweeping changes under the FY 2018 budget is the proposal to change programmatic requirements around SNAP, which provides vital food assistance to more than 40 million Americans. The budget calls for reducing overall spending on SNAP and other federal nutrition programs by $194 billion over ten years – a cut of about 25 percent – by, among other things, limiting the current waiver for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) to counties with unemployment exceeding ten percent, and other changes to restrict eligibility; eliminating the minimum SNAP benefit; and phasing in a state matching requirement over ten years, with states ultimately expected to provide a 25 percent match. The budget does not appear to propose changes to the SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) program, which some states use to connect participants with skills-based training programs at community colleges and community-based organizations. SNAP helps millions of people feed put food on their table while they’re in between jobs or trying to move up within their career. Without access to food assistance, it will be harder for unemployed people and low-wage workers to participate in training that leads to a family-supporting job. However, the proposed changes to eligibility will likely reduce access to needed benefits, as states are pressured to find work activities for more recipients with fewer resources.

Department of Health and Human Services. The budget proposes significant cuts to HHS programs that can help support employment and training while providing critical assistance to sustain engagement in work.

The budget would cut current funding levels for the TANF program by a combined $2.2 billion, reducing the federal block grant from $16.7 billion to $15.1 billion and eliminating the $608 million TANF Contingency Fund that is intended to assist states facing economic downturns. If enacted, the proposed cuts would reduce overall federal support for TANF by a combined $21.7 billion over the next decade. Given that the overall block grant has not been increased since TANF was passed in 1996, the proposed cuts would mean that its inflation-adjusted purchasing power would be more than 40 percent below original funding levels.

The budget also calls for elimination of the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) and related community services programs, a total of $769 million in cuts. Many states and local areas use CSBG funds to support training and related activities that help residents of low-income communities connect to employment.

National Skills Coalition strongly opposes the unnecessary and drastic cuts in the President’s budget proposal. At a time when millions of U.S. workers are seeking the skills and credentials to get and keep family-supporting jobs – and when U.S. businesses are struggling to find qualified individuals to keep up with demand – such significant reductions in federal workforce, education, and human services programs will make our nation less competitive in the global economy. NSC calls on Congress to reject the President’s proposals and to ensure that we continue our bipartisan commitment to investments in skills.   


FY 2018 – Authorized Levels

FY 2017 Omnibus

FY 2018 President’s Budget

Change FY 2017-2018

Department of Labor

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I – State Formula Grants[1]





WIOA Adult





WIOA Dislocated Worker[2]





WIOA Youth





Wagner-Peyser/Employment Service Grants






Workforce Data Quality Initiative grants





Apprenticeship Grants





DW National Reserve





Native American Programs





Ex-Offender Activities





Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers





Youth Build





Senior Community Service Employment Program


$433, 535,000


-$433, 535,000

Department of Education

Career and Technical Education State Grants





Adult Education and Family Literacy State Grants





Federal Work Study






Posted In: Federal Funding, Career and Technical Education, SNAP Employment and Training, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
Maine introduces legislation to support and integrate immigrant workforce

A Republican state senator in Maine has introduced a bill that would create a Cabinet-level Office of New Mainers. The bipartisan legislation is in response to concerns about the state’s aging workforce, and recognition that immigrant workers represent a potential resource for meeting the state’s current and future labor force needs.

According to Census figures, nearly 1 in 5 Mainers is over the age of 65, and the state has the oldest median age in the nation. Just 3.5 percent of the state’s population was born abroad, a number that is far below the national average of 13 percent foreign-born residents.

The legislation was introduced by Sen. Roger Katz (R-Augusta). A press release from the senator’s office describes key features of the bill, titled An Act To Attract, Educate and Retain New Mainers To Strengthen the Workforce (LD 1492). The bill would create an Office of New Mainers headed by a director who would:

  • Coordinate with state agencies and programs to attract, educate, integrate and retain immigrants into Maine’s workforce. Specific agencies mentioned include the state’s departments of Labor; Education; Economic and Community Development; Health and Human Services; and Professional and Financial Regulation.
  • Administer programs, projects and grants to attract, educate, integrate and retain immigrants into the state’s workforce, economy and communities.
  • Develop metrics to evaluate outcomes.
  • Establish a committee to provide input and guide the development and implementation of the comprehensive plan. Committee members would include a wide range of stakeholders, including a representative from the state workforce board; three Chamber of Commerce representatives; a postsecondary education representative; and a person with “extensive experience in providing educational instruction to adult English Language Learners.”

The press release also notes that the bill would establish a Welcome Center Initiative to provide vocational training for foreign-trained workers, match those individuals with employers in areas experiencing a shortage of trained workers and establish three grant programs to provide support to immigrants, communities and adult education programs to achieve the stated goals.

In recognition of the critical role that English language acquisition plays in economic integration, the bill specifies that the Welcome Centers would be housed within existing adult education administrative structures. To ensure that job-training activities are demand-driven, organizations seeking funding under this program must collaborate with local employers to identify skill needs and develop interventions that address those needs.

The bill’s total projected price tag is $2 million. If enacted, Maine would join six other states that have established state-level Offices of New Americans or other initiatives designed to ensure that immigrant residents are incorporated into the labor market and broader society. Those states are California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania. In 2015, the Pew Immigration and the States Project released a short analysis of such state-level efforts. 

Posted In: Immigration, Adult Basic Education, Maine
House Education and Workforce Committee approves Perkins reauthorization

On May 17th, the House Education and Workforce Committee marked up  and unanimously voted to advance the bipartisan Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. The bill would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and was introduced on May 4th by Reps. Thompson (R-PA) and Krishnamoorthi (D-IL).

In her introduction to the markup, Chairwoman Foxx (R-NC) emphasized the importance of career and technical education in helping students build the skills businesses need. Ranking Member Scott (D-VA), in his introduction, also emphasized the importance of reauthorization further aligning career and technical education with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

The bill passed by Committee was largely unchanged from the bill introduced last week. Though, Rep. Lewis (R-MN) introduced an amendment, passed by voice vote, to expand dual enrollment opportunities for students enrolled in CTE courses.

Rep. Wilson (D-FL) introduced, and later withdrew, an amendment to include ex-offenders in the list of special populations measured under the bill. Reps. Bonamici (D-OR) and Polis (D-CO) introduced an amendment to maintain an enforcement mechanism, in the current law, allowing the Department of Education to withhold funds from states who have not met program improvement goals for outcomes for special populations. The Representatives withdrew their amendment after discussion.

The bill is very similar to the reauthorization passed by the House with overwhelming bipartisan support last Congress. It is consistent with NSC’s reauthorization priorities and includes provisions that would make it easier for states and CTE providers to coordinate with activities under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), including closer alignment of postsecondary performance indicators with the core performance indicators under WIOA, and requirements that state Perkins plans describe how CTE programs fit within the state’s broader vision and strategy for preparing an educated and skilled workforce. The bill would also adopt several key WIOA definitions, including recognized postsecondary credentials, industry or sector partnerships, and career pathways.

After being advanced by the House, the Senate was not able to move the bill forward last Congress, in part due to disagreements over the Secretary of Education’s oversight role echoed in Reps. Bonamici and Polis’ withdrawn amendment.

NSC has joined with the Perkins CTE Coalition, a broad range of nearly 300 stakeholders, to support the legislation. We look forward to working with members of the House and Senate to advance a reauthorization that meets the needs of workers and businesses and will continue to monitor the bill’s progress. 

Posted In: Career and Technical Education
House and Senate Democrats introduce legislation to expand access to Pell Grants

On May 16, Senate and House Democrats introduced the Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act. The legislation would amend the Higher Education Act (HEA) by supporting the expansion of Pell grants to improve rates of access, affordability and completion in postsecondary education programs. Representatives Scott (D-VA) and Davis (D-CA) introduced the House corollary of the bill, and Senators Hirono (D-HI) and Murray (D-WA) introduced the Senate version.

The bill includes a proposal to expand Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in short-term job training programs that lead to industry-recognized credentials and ultimately employment with in-demand industries. This proposal builds on the Jumpstarting our Businesses to Support Students (JOBS) Act of 2017, introduced earlier this year by Senators Portman (R-OH) and Kaine (D-VA). In addition to supporting the JOBS Act, NSC has called for further investments in career pathways and for Congressional adoption of employment, earnings, and credential attainment metrics. 

The Democrats’ bills contain many NSC priorities for HEA reauthorization and would expand access to Pell grants in several ways, including:

  1. Transitioning funding for Pell grants fully to mandatory funding. The program is currently funded in part with discretionary funding subject to the annual appropriations process;
  2. Allowing DREAMers access to Pell grants in the same manner as other qualified applicants;
  3. Increasing the maximum Pell award by $500, tying this maximum award to the Consumer Price Index, and increasing the income a family can earn while still maintaining eligibility for the maximum Pell award;
  4. Expanding Pell eligibility to certain incarcerated and previously incarcerated individuals; and
  5. Extending eligibility to students who used a portion of their eligibility for programs which were subsequently found to have defrauded students. 

On May 15, Senators Hatch (R-UT), Warren (D-MA), Cassidy (R-LA), and Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced the College Transparency Act, which would also amend HEA. The bill would create a postsecondary student data system at the U.S. Department of Education, in order to publicize aggregate information about completion rates, debt repayment, and employment outcomes for postsecondary programs. Read more about the College Transparency Act from the Workforce Data Quality Campaign.

National Skills Coalition looks forward to working with members of Congress to align the Higher Education Act with today’s working students. 

Posted In: Higher Education Access
Leadership Spotlight: Chaer Robert

Chaer Robert is the Manager of the Family Economic Security Program at the Colorado Center on Law and Policy. In the interview below, Chaer shares her take on student's access to information about educaton options, her experience leading CO Skills2Compete, and what she’s learned from her work in the field.

1. Tell us a little about your professional background and how you came to focus on workforce development?

Prior to my current position at Colorado Center on Law and Policy, I worked as director of the Denver Women’s Commission of the City and County of Denver. There I did public education, coalition building and advocacy on a wide range of women’s issues.

While I was familiar with issues like pay equity, women in nontraditional jobs, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and access to child care, I did not have a background in workforce development. That began four years ago at CCLP as I staffed the already existing Skills2Compete Coalition.

2. When did you first get involved with NSC/WDQC and why?

As coordinator of a state coalition affiliated with National Skills Coalition, I was on a steep learning curve. I attended the national conferences, but cherished the technical assistance and support we got advocating for WIOA, then commenting on aspects of the federal rules, and our state and regional and local WIOA plans.

3. Can you tell us about your efforts to pass a consumer scorecard bill in Colorado?

During a coalition planning session two years ago, the group identified private occupational schools as one of three top priorities, along with having Colorado recognize all three high school equivalency tests (done!)  and advocating for the provision of support services so that people can successfully enter and complete training.

Since Colorado is a very libertarian state, with split party control of each house of the legislature, we knew failure was guaranteed if we tried to add burdensome regulations on the for-profit educational sector. Instead we crafted, with substantial help from the Workforce Data Quality Campaign, a bill that would ask no more of a private occupational school as was asked for a public college or university also competing for WIOA training dollars, Pell Grants or GI benefit eligibility. Basically, the school would have to report student names and social security numbers. Agencies could then obtain verified employment, wage and debt outcomes could be obtained and statistical information would be made available to the public on an existing state comparative website along the lines of the federal College Scorecard website. The bill was killed in the first committee.

We learned an incredible amount about comparative websites, student disclosure requirements, accreditation, state certification, Title IV reporting, impact of private school closure on students, credit transferability, GI bill eligibility, WIOA outcome data reporting, etc.  We’re not done, although we have not yet decided on what to try next. 

4. Why do you feel that it is so important for students to have information about their education options?

In this culture people are told, and believe, that education and training are the key to upward mobility. Low income Coloradans are told that education is the path out of poverty.  Therefore, it is easy to believe that any investment in one’s education is good.  Many for-profit colleges actively market to low income adults.  They often cost 3-4 times as much as community colleges, leaving people with substantial debt, even after receiving Pell Grants or GI benefits. This investment in time and money could be worth it if upon graduation they get a job with a significant boost in earnings.  But some school graduates earn no more than those with a high school diploma. And those who leave school before completing any certification end up with debt, potential default and lower credit score, no credential and having used up some of their eligibility for future Pell grants or GI benefits. To make good choices about their return on investment, student need to know graduation rates, job placement rate, verified earnings data, average student loan and loan default rates.  Public outcomes data also helps schools focus on job and earnings outcomes for students, and bragging rights if their students tend to succeed.

5. What is the most fulfilling part of leading the CO Skills 2 Compete coalition?

The amazing synergy that comes from having members from many sectors and organizational levels discussing issues, designing action, and advocating. From line staff to directors in community based organization, workforce centers, community college, SNAP Employment and Training, adult education, opportunity youth programs, vocational rehabilitation, policy wonks, advocates for those experiencing homelessness, welfare to work programs, and others, we together end up with a deep understand of workforce issues.

6. What do you feel has been your most meaningful accomplishment during your time at the Colorado Center on Law and Policy?

I am always proudest of our legislative accomplishments. For Skills2Compete Colorado, I am particularly proud that we conceived, wrote, and successfully lobbied a bill to fund Adult Education Workforce Partnerships. In 2014, Colorado was THE ONLY STATE that did not put a dime of state money into adult education. Our bill created a million-dollar grant program, with funds going to adult education providers who partner with a post-secondary training entity and an employment program. Too often adult education students and graduates have a hard time getting to the on-ramp for career pathways and other employment opportunities.