National Coalition for Literacy Urges Congress to Fully Fund Adult Education in 2016

NCL 2016 Omnibus LetterThis week NCL sent a letter to members of Congress asking them to ensure that the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, now being negotiated following the passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) earlier this month, includes support for adult education under Title II of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) at least at the FY 2016 authorized level of $622 million.

Earlier this year, under the old caps imposed by sequestration, the Senate proposed funding WIOA Title II adult education programs $35 million below the fiscal year 2015 enacted level, cutting Adult Basic and Literacy Education State Grants by $29 million, and Adult Education National Leadership Activities by $6 million. As we noted then, after the overwhelming bipartisan support for the passage of WIOA last year, it was disappointing to see adult education funded at levels below those authorized by that legislation. With the passage of the BBA, Congress now has the funds needed to fully support WIOA programs.

NCL is not alone in requesting that adult education under WIOA be fully funded:

  • In a letter sent to Congress on November 12th, the Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce called on appropriators to “fund adult education and literacy programs under Title II of WIOA at least at authorized levels to ensure that the 36 million Americans with low basic skills are able to strengthen their educational levels in order to take advantage of emerging economic opportunities.”
  • The National Council of State Directors of Adult Education has also asked Congress to fully fund WIOA Tittle II at the authorized level, reminding appropriators that WIOA “established adult education as one of the four key programs in the workforce system because it recognized the crucial role adult education plays in educating our population, teaching English and civics, and preparing adults for occupational training, to enter the workforce, or improve their employment status…. That is why the $622 million authorized in WIOA in FY 2016 for Title II is so important.
  •  The American Association of Community Colleges has also urged Congress to increase funding for adult education in the bill, noting that “demand for these programs far outstrips supply, as tens of thousands of individuals remain on service waitlists. In FY 2013, funding for this program was slashed and has not substantially recovered.

NCL members have also been contacting with members of Congress over the last two weeks with a similar message. Appropriations subcommittees have been asked to complete their work on funding levels of their respective bill by Friday, November 20th. The goal is to have an omnibus bill completed and passed by December 11th.

It’s not too late to help! If your U.S. Senator or Representative is listed below, consider contacting his or her office this week. (You can find your Senator’s phone number here and your U.S. Representative’s phone number here.)

House Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee
Representative Andrew P. Harris Maryland
Representative Barbara Lee California
Representative Chaka Fattah Pennsylvania
Representative Charles W. Dent Pennsylvania
Representative Chuck Fleischmann Tennessee
Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard California
Representative Martha Roby Alabama
Representative Michael K. Simpson Idaho
Representative Rosa L. DeLauro (Ranking Member) Connecticut
Representative Scott E. Rigell Virginia
Representative Steve Womack Arkansas
Representative Tom Cole (Chairman) Oklahoma
 

Senate Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee

Senator Bill Cassidy Louisiana
Senator Brian Schatz Hawaii
Senator Jack Reed Rhode Island
Senator James Lankford Oklahoma
Senator Jeanne Shaheen New Hampshire
Senator Jeffrey Merkley Oregon
Senator Jerry Moran Kansas
Senator Lamar Alexander Tennessee
Senator Lindsey O. Graham South Carolina
Senator Mark Steven Kirk Illinois
Senator Patty Murray (Ranking Member) Washington
Senator Richard C. Shelby Alabama
Senator Richard J. Durbin Illinois
Senator Roy Blunt (Chairman) Missouri
Senator Shelley Moore Capito West Virginia
Senator Tammy Baldwin Wisconsin
 

Appropriation Committee Chairs/Ranking Members

Senator Thad Cochran (Chair, Senate) Mississippi
Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (Ranking Member, Senate Maryland
Representative Harold Rogers (Chair, House) Kentucky
Representative Nita M. Lowey (Ranking Member, House) New York

National Coalition for Literacy Urges Congress to Make Adult Education a 2016 Budget Priority

NCL 2016 Budget Letter - March 2015This week NCL sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to draft a budget resolution that supports adequate funding for adult education under Title II of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). As noted in our letter, the federal investment in adult education state grants has been steadily declining in terms of real dollars since FY 2002. Unlike many other programs, adult education state grants did not have  its sequestered funds restored in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act. The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015 included a $5 million increase, but that was $26 million less than the pre-sequestration level of $595 million.

In addition, we asked that the budget resolution provide the appropriations committees with the flexibility to consider full restoration of “ability-to-benefit” under the Pell grant program.

For more details, we encourage you to read the entire letter.

The congressional budget resolution establishes overall revenue and spending totals for a given fiscal year (in this case, for fiscal year 2016). It allocates spending among major government functions, set limits on discretionary spending programs, and establishes target levels for mandatory spending.

The House and Senate Budget Committees are drafting their two respective budget resolutions this month. They are not required to follow the President’s budget, but they often use it as their starting point.

NCL Joins With NDD United to Advocate for Eliminating Sequestration

In 2013, the Bipartisan Budget Act negotiated by Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) provided partial, temporary relief from sequestration. Unfortunately full sequestration is due to return in 2016. In response, NDD United, an alliance of organizations working together to protect nondefense discretionary funding, has renewed its efforts to bring an end to sequestration.

On February 18th, the National Coalition for Literacy joined more than 2,100 nondefense discretionary (NDD) United organizations to urge Congress and President Obama to work together to end sequestration. This letter, co-signed by NCL, emphasizes (1) the importance of NDD programs, (2) the harmful effects of budget cuts to date, and (3) the equal importance of both defense and nondefense programs in America’s security at home and abroad, and thus the need for equal sequestration relief.

Cuts to date have had significant impacts on the lives of Americans as demonstrated in NDD United’s 2013 report “Faces of Austerity: How Budget Cuts Make Us Sicker, Poorer, and Less Secure.”

“Unless theses restraints on federal spending are loosened, it’s unlikely that even the marginal funding  increases authorized by the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) will ever see the light of day,” notes Jeff Carter, President of the National Coalition for Literacy.

Deficit reduction measures enacted since 2010 have come overwhelmingly from spending cuts. So far, Congress and the President have been unable to agree on a plan to replace the damaging cuts. As work begins on the 2016 budget, NCL will continue to press the Congress and the President to eliminate or replace sequestration.

National Coalition For Literacy Calls for Omnibus Appropriations Bill

(This post has been updated. See below.)

This week NCL sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to approve an omnibus appropriations bill before the end of the calendar year, rather than passing a continuing resolution based on FY 2014 levels that inadequately supports adult education (along with many other important programs). In addition, the letter calls for an increase in funding for Adult Education to at least the $609 million level proposed in the Labor-HHS-Education bill released by Representative Rosa DeLauro in September; urges restoration of the “ability-to-benefit” provision under the Pell grant program; and endorses a call by the Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce to provide at least $250 million in WIOA implementation funding.

You can read the entire letter here.

You can help! Contact your members of Congress urging them to enact an omnibus appropriations bill, with an increase in adult education funding, as soon as possible.

UPDATE 01/21/2015:

We are pleased to report some success in terms our advocacy efforts above. Congress did, thankfully, pass an omnibus appropriations bill before the end of year for the entire government—with the exception of the Department of Homeland Security, which was funded under a short-term continuing resolution due to Republican protests over President Obama’s executive order on immigration.

In addition, the legislation (dubbed the “Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015) included a $5 million increase for adult basic education state grants—short of what we had advocated, but a welcome increase nonetheless.

The legislation also included a partial reinstatement of Pell Grant and federal student aid eligibility for “ability-to-benefit” students—another of our requests. The reinstatement of Pell Grant eligibility for ability-to-benefit is limited to qualified students enrolled in career pathway programs.