(Summary courtesy of ACTE)
Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill, following on the heels of the subcommittee that passed the bill earlier in the week. The bill proposes level funding for both the Perkins Basic State Grant at $1.118 billion and Perkins National Programs at $7.4 million. Thanks to the efforts of CTE advocates nationwide, the committee chose to maintain state grant funding for CTE in the bill, despite tight budget caps for domestic programs and a $220 million cut in education funding overall!
The bill also proposes a restoration of year-round Pell grants, which would allow students who have exhausted their award for an academic year to receive aid for an additional term (the Pell maximum award would also be increased from $5,815 to $5,935). Restoring year-round Pell is a major higher education policy priority for ACTE as it will help students at community colleges and tech centers to more quickly complete their postsecondary education. Additionally, the committee approved $100 million to continue a grant program, first funded in the FY 2016 appropriations bill, intended to accelerate and expand state apprenticeship strategies and grow the use of apprenticeships in new industries.
Unfortunately, one of the largest federal workforce training programs did not fare so well. The formula grant programs under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act for youth, adults and dislocated workers were all slated for cuts, a nearly 3 percent reduction overall, in the bill. It’s unclear if or when the bill will be taken up by the full Senate, and the House has not yet unveiled its FY 2017 education funding bill for FY 2017, so CTE advocates should continue to contact their lawmakers to urge a strong investment in Perkins!