On Monday, March 11, President Trump released the first part of his 2020 budget proposal, which included $10.9 billion for the Department of Labor (DOL), a $1.2 billion or 9.7 percent decrease from FY19.
In a proposal that cuts overall Nondefense Discretionary funding by 5 percent from last year’s levels, Department of Labor and the Department of Education bear disproportionate cuts at 10 percent and 12 percent, respectively. Level funding for workforce programs may look like a win in that context, but many of these programs have been drastically underfunded for decades. As we enter the final year of authorized funding levels in WIOA, level funding for critical programs isn’t enough. A strong Congressional investment in WIOA in FY 2020 will be critical to continued innovation in states and local areas, especially as reauthorization conversations ramp up.
Despite the level formula funding request, the budget would cut or eliminate most of the national programs under Employment and Training Administration’s jurisdiction, except for apprenticeship grants. The Budget does include $160 million for apprenticeships consistent with enacted FY2019 levels, and proposes to refocus the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program on apprenticeship and on-the-job training. The budget, however, asks for the funding to support the expansion of industry-recognized apprenticeship, a new system DOL is in the process of implementing.
The President requests authorizing legislation to double the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act (ACWIA) fee for the H-1B visa program to help train American workers and close the skills gap. This increase would provide additional funding for the Department of Labor (DOL) job training grants to support apprenticeships, while level funding DOL job training grants; DOL foreign language certifications; National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers programs; and Department of Homeland Security processing costs. The NSF allocation for STEM scholarships would be cut to support a new allocation for CTE State Grants.