Members of the House and Senate reached an agreement late yesterday on a nearly $1.1 trillion FY 2015 spending bill that will fund most of the federal government through September 30, 2015. The one exception: funding for the Department of Homeland Security is funded only through February. This is supposedly going to give Republicans some leverage in the next Congress to block President Obama’s recent executive order on immigration.
Here is how adult education made out:
Total amount for WIOA Title II adult education is $582,667,000. State grants were funded at $568,955,000. (This is the money that is sub granted to programs for direct services.) The FY 2014 figure for state grants was $563,955,000, thus this is a $5 million increase. National Leadership funding (basically funding that goes to the U.S. Department of Education to manage the WIOA Title II program and provide assistance, research etc.) was level-funded at $13,712,000 (but note that this line item did get a slight bump up in FY 2014).
No one is going to complain about an increase—whatever the amount—and in the current fiscal environment, even a relatively small $5 million increase should arguably be viewed as a victory. But as far as I can tell, nearly every adult education or WIOA advocacy group that spoke out about the FY 2015 budget advocated for a larger increase, and with ample justification. A $30 million increase was needed to bring state grant funding back to the pre-sequestration level of $595 million. This was what the House Democrats’ proposed Labor-HHS-Education bill included. The National Coalition for LIteracy advocated for the House Democrats’ proposal, noting that it would not only have restored state adult education grants to the pre-sequester level, it would have also maintained the slight bump up in national leadership programs that was included in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act. For those interested, I have a post here that summarizes the different proposals for adult education funding under WIOA that were released over the course of the last year.
For what it’s worth, the total amount for WIOA Title II adult education contained in this bill—$582,667,000—is actually above the funding level authorized under WIOA for FY 2015, which simply carried over the FY 2014 funding level of $577,667,000. But as noted by myself and others, the WIOA authorized amounts are not even close to what is needed to meet the need for adult education in this country.
The new spending bill also includes a provision “reinstating” ability-to-benefit (ATB) financial aid eligibility for students without high school diplomas enrolled in career pathway programs at community colleges. Note that this is in fact a partial reinstatement of ATB, since the older provision didn’t restrict eligibility to those enrolled in career pathway programs. Regardless of whether you think such a restriction is a good or bad idea, I think it’s important to remember that this is not a full restoration of ATB.
The House and Senate are expected to try to quickly pass the bill this week.
Here is the source for all the FY 2015 information above.