House Committee Indicates Priorities on Data Dollars
The House Appropriations Committee passed a Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 appropriations bill for Labor, Health, and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies. Similar to the Senate version, the legislation generally maintains current funding levels for workforce data, except for a decrease in the amount allocated to a grant program that supports state longitudinal data systems.
The House bill sets aside about $27 million for the U.S. Department of Education’s Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) grant program, almost $8 million below the FY 2016 enacted level. For the U.S. Department of Labor’s Workforce Data Quality Initiative (WDQI) grant program, the bill stays consistent with FY 2016 at $6 million.
The House Committee report did not explain the reason for the SLDS reduction. Both figures fall far under the Administration’s request, as shown in the chart below. WDQC and partner organizations sent a letter to the House subcommittee earlier this year to request significant increases in funding for these competitive programs to help states make more progress in developing and using their longitudinal data systems.
Remaining consistent with FY 2016 enacted levels, the House Committee slated about $68 million for the DOL’s Workforce Information and E-Tools, which includes grants to help states conduct research on local and regional labor markets, and sets aside about $8 million for the Department’s occupational licensing initiative to explore ways to make licenses more portable.
The Committee also chose to stay at the same level of funding for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) with $609 million. (WDQC joined a Friends of Labor Statistics letter earlier this year to request greater funding for BLS activities.)
The House and Senate are unlikely to reconcile and hold a final vote on the bill because of time constraints. WDQC will continue to monitor the process and provide updates. Also see workforce program appropriations blogs from Advance CTE and the National Skills Coalition.