Both the House and Senate appropriation committees have been working on the overall federal budget allocations for fiscal year 2018. These are particularly important discussions, especially to the adult literacy field. The president’s proposed budget for FY18 contained a number of significant cuts to programs of vital importance to adult basic education and ProLiteracy members and students.
However, the preliminary actions by the House and Senate appropriators are encouraging. The initial House and Senate budget figures for the core adult education funding in WIOA Title II call for level funding rather than the 16% cut proposed in the president’s budget. Equally important to many programs is the support for continuation
and solid funding of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which sponsors Americorps, VISTA, and Senior Corps. These programs are critical for the operation of many community-based literacy programs.
While this is somewhat reassuring, there are still programs within the Labor Department, the U.S. Housing & Urban Development Department, and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services with budgets being reduced or programs being eliminated completely. These budget changes could have significant
impact on our students’ ability to enroll in adult literacy programs. We will continue to monitor these proposed reductions and mobilize efforts to advocate on behalf of our students.
The Good News for Adult Literacy
The positive news is that we clearly have supporters of our work in Congress, and we are hopeful that we can count on their continued work on behalf of adult education. It is important to thank these lawmakers and their staff members and to continue building relationships that will benefit our adult education programs, as there is still much work to be done. ProLiteracy thanks everyone for making local contacts with legislators and for the support that is vital to developing our efforts.
While we are viewing the level funding as a positive sign, we will feel much more encouraged as a field when we begin to see much-needed increases in the funding for our programs—programs that are the foundational base for many education and employment related initiatives in the federal budget.