[Affildir] FW: Public Policy Advocacy Updates
mtait at lvgs.org
Tue Dec 20 13:13:39 EST 2011
And Happy Holidays to all!
Marsha L. Tait
Literacy Volunteers of Greater Syracuse
2111 S. Salina St.
Syracuse, NY 13205
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From: National Coalition for Literacy [mailto:ncl at ncladvocacy.org]
Sent: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 10:06 AM
To: Marsha L. Tait
Subject: Public Policy Advocacy Updates
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By Ellen Fern and Jackie Taylor
In this month's public policy advocacy update
<http://capwiz.com/ncl/utr/1/EZNSQZGTJF/GOUMQZIWVX/7732262741> , learn more
about the status of the budget and appropriations process for FY2012 and
what this means for adult education; find updates and breaking news on
extending Unemployment Insurance (UI) employment benefits and how it may
impact undereducated workers, learn about new jobs legislation that includes
adult education, and see more progress made on WIA reauthorization in the
* Budget and Appropriations
* UI Alerts
* WIA Reauthorization
* Pathways Back to Work Act
* Adult Literacy Advocacy-What this means for you
Budget and Appropriations
Last week, harshly partisan accusations flew back and forth across the
Capitol, with Democrats and Republicans blaming one another for various
stalemates preventing members from leaving for the holidays. The unfinished
"must do" items were formidable, including a budget for FY2012, an extension
of unemployment benefits, finding a way to extend the 2 percent payroll tax
holiday, preventing a sharp cut in Medicare reimbursements to physicians and
numerous other policy issues that required action before year's end.
Late Thursday evening, December 15, everything changed. The unseasonably
balmy 60 degrees in the Nation's capitol thawed the tone of discourse. The
conference agreement for the FY 2012 omnibus appropriations bill that will
fund two thirds of government agencies-including the Department of
Education-was finally signed by Democrats. It passed the House on Friday,
December 16, and the Senate worked on Saturday, December 17 to approve the
bill avoiding a threatened government shutdown.
The House also passed a short-term continuing resolution, set to expire on
December 23. This is to give legislative staffs enough time to file the
1,200 page omnibus bill that will fund the government through September 30,
While the omnibus bill does not include many funding increases for
education, it was more generous than anticipated in light of the sharp
differences between the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services and
Education (LHHS) bill and the proposal put forth by House Subcommittee
Chairman, Denny Rehberg (R-MT). The final measure also includes an across
the board cut of .189% which will impact all programs. Small increases were
included for Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
(IDEA.) Most other programs were frozen at the FY 2012 level. This includes
level funding for adult education state grants at $596.1 million. EL Civics
remains funded at $74.8 million and national leadership activities remains
funded at $11,323,000.
The administration's signature programs-Race to the Top, Investing in
Innovation (i3) and Promise Neighborhoods, were all funded, though not at
the levels that matched the President's request. Modifications were made to
Pell Grant eligibility provisions in order to maintain the maximum grant
award including requiring a high school diploma, GED or completion of a
homeschooling program to receive a Pell grant.
Literacy programs did well, with the Comprehensive Striving Readers program
receiving $160 million which includes funding for family literacy
activities and a new Literacy program targeted to libraries receiving $28
million. Though the House bill had eliminated funding for the Math Science
Partnership Program, funding was maintained in the final bill at $25 million
below FY 2011. Similarly, funds for the Comprehensive Centers that the House
wanted to reduce were included at last year's level along with funding for
the Regional Education Labs.
Unemployment Insurance (UI) Alert: Say No to Slashing UI for Undereducated
Senate leaders have been working behind closed doors on a measure that would
extend the payroll tax cut and jobless benefits for two months while
preventing a pay cut for doctors who treat Medicare patients. "They have
agreed in principle to a two-month deal extending the payroll tax holiday,
unemployment benefits and the Medicare issue that also includes a provision
on a controversial oil pipeline the president said he would reject,"
according to CQ's Roll Call. This deal was passed by the Senate on Saturday.
It's a clean extension of current law; Democrats did not get the expansion
of the payroll tax holiday and Republicans did not get the substantial
overhaul of unemployment passed in the House.
However, as of Monday morning House Republicans have revolted against their
leader Speaker John Boehner and now say they will not vote for the
compromise measure passed by the Senate on Saturday. This means that the
payroll tax extension, along with the extension of unemployment benefits the
Medicare physician reimbursement schedule, remain part of the ongoing drama
in Washington. The questions remains.when will it end?
While gridlock remains, it does appear that the House passed bill, H.R.
3630, which included language that would deny unemployment insurance
benefits to individuals who do not have a HS diploma or GED unless they are
enrolled and making satisfactory progress in classes leading to one, will
not be part of any compromise measure. Anti-poverty and economic
opportunity groups, such as the National Employment Law Project
<http://capwiz.com/ncl/utr/1/EZNSQZGTJF/BLJNQZIWVY/7732262741> , the Center
for Law and Social Policy
<http://capwiz.com/ncl/utr/1/EZNSQZGTJF/BVOAQZIWVZ/7732262741> , as well as
the National Coalition for Literacy
<http://capwiz.com/ncl/utr/1/EZNSQZGTJF/LLHNQZIWWA/7732262741> and the
Commission on Adult Basic Education
<http://capwiz.com/ncl/utr/1/EZNSQZGTJF/NIMGQZIWWB/7732262741> , mobilized
against H.R. 3630 as the bill unfairly targets adults based on education
level. If this were ultimately included in a final extension package, this
unfunded mandate would overly burden adult education programs as many
maintain waiting lists (source
<http://capwiz.com/ncl/utr/1/EZNSQZGTJF/NPOMQZIWWC/7732262741> ). In fact,
it's estimated that in the third quarter of 2011 alone, this legislation
would have created a demand larger than the number of adults already on
existing waiting lists for services nationwide (source
On December 7, Members of the NCL Board met with the staff of the Chairman
of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, Representative John
Kline (R-MN), and learned that two WIA bills were going to be introduced in
the House on December 8: one titled, the Streamlining Workforce Development
Programs Act <http://capwiz.com/ncl/utr/1/EZNSQZGTJF/BWPTQZIWWE/7732262741>
(H.R. 3610 <http://capwiz.com/ncl/utr/1/EZNSQZGTJF/NMEXQZIWWF/7732262741> )
was introduced by Representative Foxx (R-NC), Chair of the Education and the
Workforce Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, and the
second was introduced by Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV), titled, the Local Job
Opportunities and Business Success (JOBS) Act
<http://capwiz.com/ncl/utr/1/EZNSQZGTJF/HQBRQZIWWG/7732262741> (H.R. 3611
Rep. Foxx's bill proposes to consolidate 33 of the 47 workforce programs
into four formula funding streams:
* The Workforce Investment Fund - provides job training services to
adults, unemployed workers, and youth seeking employment;
* The State Youth Workforce Investment Fund - serves the nation's
disadvantaged youth, with a focus on school completion;
* The Veterans Workforce Investment Fund - delivers employment and
training services to America's veterans; and
* The Targeted Populations Workforce Investment Fund - continues
assistance to special populations, including Native Americans and seasonal
According to top House Democrats, the bill would dismantle the national
commitment to job training and educational assistance
Fact Sheet: Streamlining Workforce Development Programs Act
<http://capwiz.com/ncl/utr/1/EZNSQZGTJF/ENPMQZIWWJ/7732262741> (H.R. 3610
Rep. Joe Heck's bill outlines three component changes to Title One Workforce
Investment Boards (WIBs): 1) it requires two-thirds of WIB members to be
employers; 2) it removes 20+ specific federally-mandated partners from the
boards; and 3) it requires local WIBs to set aside funding for training.
Fact Sheet: Local Job Opportunities and Business Success (JOBS) Act
<http://capwiz.com/ncl/utr/1/EZNSQZGTJF/GXDKQZIWWL/7732262741> (H.R. 3611
Earlier this year, Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-CA), introduced the Workforce
Investment Improvement Act (H.R. 2295
<http://capwiz.com/ncl/utr/1/EZNSQZGTJF/OVTLQZIWWN/7732262741> ) to help
improve WIA by streamlining operational costs of the one stop career
centers, encouraging high quality providers, streamlining access to program
services, and other comprehensive reforms to WIA. Chairman Kline's staff
requested the Coalition provide feedback on the McKeon bill, in particular.
House Democrats plan to introduce their version of WIA reauthorization in
the New Year.
In a recent statement, Rep. Tierney noted, "I believe the Workforce
Investment Act must be modernized and strengthened in ways that better
align services, increase access to training, support innovation, enable
workers to obtain the skills they need to compete for jobs, and ensure
employers have the workforce they need to grow and thrive. Ranking Member
Miller, Congressman Hinojosa and I will soon introduce WIA reauthorization
legislation that reflects these principles and presents a far better and
more thoughtful approach than the Republican bill introduced today." (Source
The Coalition also came out in support of the Adult Education and Economic
Growth Act (AEEGA), which was reintroduced in the House by lead sponsor and
Adult Literacy Caucus Co-chair, Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX). See the NCL
Letter of Support
<http://capwiz.com/ncl/utr/1/EZNSQZGTJF/GMOOQZIWWQ/7732262741> , recently
sent to House leadership on the Education and the Workforce Committee.
NCL is currently reviewing the Republican-introduced House WIA
reauthorization bills and more information and analysis from the Coalition
will be forthcoming in the following weeks.
Pathways Back to Work Act
In October 2011, adult literacy advocates asked Senators to include the
Pathways Back to Work Fund in any jobs legislation that was introduced in
the Senate. We are happy to report-you succeeded!
On November 15, 2011, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced S. 1861,
the Pathways Back to Work Act of 2011, modeled on provisions of President
Obama's American Jobs Act. This legislation asks Congress to consider the
needs of those hard hit by the jobs crisis, the long-term unemployed and
According to Neil Ridley, Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for Law and
Social Policy (CLASP), among the bill's provisions, the fund also
establishes a $1.5 billion competitive grant program for a range of
promising research-based work and education opportunities that help
low-skilled adults and youth get education and training leading to jobs and
credentials. Adult basic education and integrated education and training
models are included as options for use of these funds.
In addition, a companion piece of legislation, H.R. 3425, was introduced in
the House by Representatives by George Miller (D-CA), Ranking Member of the
House Education and the Workforce Committee. We need more cosponsors for
these bills. Please ask your Senators to co-sponsor S. 1861 today and your
Representative to co-sponsor H.R. 3425.
Adult Literacy Advocacy-What this means for you
Actions you can take now include:
* While Members of Congress are home over the holidays, schedule a
meeting to introduce yourself to your elected officials and bring them up to
speed on the status of adult education programs in the district/state.
* Ask your Senators to co-sponsor S. 1861, the Pathways Back to Work
Act and your Representative to co-sponsor H.R. 3425.
* If your House Member is not a part of the House Adult Literacy
Caucus <http://capwiz.com/ncl/utr/1/EZNSQZGTJF/MPTOQZIWWS/7732262741> ,
invite-or follow up on past invitations-for your Representative to join the
* Plan time in January to potentially garner a strong local grassroots
response to WIA reauthorization, in light of recent conversations on the
Hill about consolidating programs and the pending release of a Democrat
version of WIA in the House.
* Stay tuned in January to give the Coalition your input on what's
needed to strengthen an adult literacy movement in our country and commit to
what you will do as a part of it.
While it appears that once again the Congress may not get their work done
before leaving for the holidays, recent polls show that the ongoing
bickering and partisanship is taking a toll on the American public.
Congress' approval rating is currently hovering at 9 percent-an all-time
low. In fact, a poll released last week found a large majority of voters
want to see all Congressional incumbents turned out of office in the next
election. Numbers like that should get their attention. Hopefully the
spirit of the holidays will linger and 2012 will be a more peaceful and
productive year. Cross your fingers and have a great holiday.
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