Federal spending is under an intense microscope this year. Unless Members of Congress hear clear support for the workforce system from stakeholders and others that support job training, it will likely be a tempting target for federal budget cuts.
Spending and deficit reduction will likely be fiercely debated during this Congressional session, dominated by election-year politics. March 20 and 27 are the respective deadlines for legislators to communicate their FY 2013 funding priorities to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.
Workforce funding for adults, youth, and dislocated workers has steadily eroded over the past decade. In 2002, when the unemployment rate was 5.8 percent, funding for the Workforce Investment Act’s youth, adult, dislocated worker programs totaled more than $3.67 billion.
FY 2012 funding for these programs and a new Workforce Innovation fund total $2.65 billion – a reduction of more than $1 billion – or 25 percent less than in 2002, at a time when unemployment remains stubbornly high at more than 8 percent.
Under last year’s Budget Control Act, Congress may appropriate up to $1.047 trillion in discretionary spending for FY 2013. While House Republicans may insist on capping spending even further, Senate leaders are moving forward with the cap outlined in the Budget Control Act.
What’s more – unless Congress agrees to a deal to reduce the deficit over 10 years by $1.2 trillion, non-defense discretionary spending will be reduced on January 1, 2013 by roughly 9 percent.
Budget appropriators are hard pressed to find savings wherever they can. As the cliché goes, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” and proponents of a range of discretionary programs are working to demonstrate support for the programs they most care about in order to convince appropriators to look for savings elsewhere.
In other words, silence is deadly. Please voice your support for job training today.