Today, the congressional conference committee that was tasked with negotiating a final Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill announced that it had reached an agreement to increase funding the Perkins Basic State Grant by $70 million--bringing the total to nearly $1.263 billion for next school year!
As we have reported, the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill that was passed by the Senate in August proposed to maintain the current funding level for the Perkins Basic State Grant. It significantly differed from the FY 2019 funding measure in the House, which would have increased the Perkins Basic State Grant by $102 million above the current level. It was the job of the conference committee members to reconcile the differences between the two versions and produce a consensus bill. The full House and Senate will likely begin consideration of the compromise measure, and hold votes on its final passage, starting next week. The hope is that Congress can pass the bill and send it to the president to be signed into law before the official beginning of the new fiscal year on October 1.
The conferees also weighed in on the Department of Education’s proposal to consolidate the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education with the Office of Postsecondary Education into a new Office of Postsecondary and Lifelong Learning. They expressed concerns that the elimination of OCTAE would “undermine the ability of the Department to fulfill not only its mission, but also congressional directives to implement relevant programs and purposes.” The conferees also noted that “OCTAE is authorized expressly in statute and cannot be consolidated or reorganized except by specific authority granted by Congress.” ACTE strongly opposes the consolidation plan, and we are working closely with Reps. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) and Jim Langevin (D-RI), co-chairs of the House CTE caucus, to push back on the proposal and highlight the important role of OCTAE in supporting state CTE systems.
While we had hoped to secure the higher funding level included in the initial House bill, we are very pleased that Congress has provided, for the second year in a row, a significant increase in the federal investment in CTE and we will work to build on these funding gains going forward. This would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of CTE advocates nationwide!
UPDATE: On Tuesday, September 19, the Senate voted 97-3 to approve the funding bill. The House is expected to vote on final passage before the end of the month.