Congress’ Year-End Spending Agreement Includes Support for Programs Significant to Goodwill®

Diverse group of workers representing different occupationsOn December 17, the Senate voted 67-32 to approve a $915 billion “megabus” spending package, clearing the measure for President Obama’s signature and closing the fiscal 2012 appropriations season.

The bill provides $10.7 billion to the Department of Labor’s Employment Training Administration (ETA), which administers several programs that support local Goodwill® agencies’ efforts to help people find jobs and advance in careers.

Highlights include:

  • $2.6 billion in combined funding for the Workforce Investment Act’s (WIA) youth, adult, and dislocated worker funding streams.
  • Nearly $450 million for the Department of Labor’s Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). Under the bill, SCSEP would continue to be administered by the Department of Labor and would not be transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging as proposed in the Obama Administration’s FY 2012 budget.
  • A combination of discretionary and mandatory spending, the maximum Pell grant will be maintained at $5,550 per student. Unfortunately, the bill includes changes to Pell grant eligibility, including reducing the number of years a student can use Pell grants from nine to six; requiring recipients to have a high school diploma, GED, or been home schooled; and lowering the adjusted gross income level to $23,000 before the expected family contribution will be zero.

While the bulk of Goodwill’s employment and supportive services are supported by the revenues generated in Goodwill’s self-sustaining business enterprises, funds for these and other federal programs support many local Goodwill agencies’ efforts to do in their communities to help people who face employment challenges.

Although several priority programs will receive slight funding reductions, GII is pleased that Congress rejected the drastic cuts to WIA as proposed in the House. However, we are disappointed by the eligibility changes for Pell grants, which are an important component of Goodwill’s effort to enhance local agencies’ collaboration with community colleges.

While many of Goodwill’s funding priorities fared well at the end of the FY 2012 appropriations cycle, economic concerns couple with election-year politics are likely to bring new threats to programs that support Goodwill’s efforts to help people to find jobs and advance in careers. Goodwill will continue to urge policymakers to invest in programs that help people to experience the power of work.