Early this morning, Congress passed a budget extension that includes a two year agreement to raise the budget caps on both defense and non-defense spending. This bill was signed by the president and will now be the basis for the development of a final 2018 budget and will provide the budgetary blueprint for a 2019 federal budget.
What is particularly noteworthy for adult literacy programs and our students is the agreement to raise the non-defense budget caps. This will potentially allow for modest increases in some non-defense-related programs including adult basic education, as well as other programs that impact our students.
This is the first time in many years that we have seen the possibility of any increase in funding, and it is important that we take this opportunity to promote our issue with the appropriate representatives and committees that make specific recommendations on budget allocations. ProLiteracy, along with other literacy organizations, will be mounting efforts to ensure that these key legislators and staff hear from adult literacy students and practitioners about the value of adult basic education and why it is critical to increase funding for these programs.
This latest budget agreement did not deal with other important issues that affect our students. Immigration reform, DACA, and several related issues remain unresolved and will need to be addressed later this year. In the meantime, we must take advantage of this urgent opportunity to advocate for increasing funding to adult literacy programs.
In addition to this latest budget news, a proposed FY 2019 budget is scheduled to be released by the president on Monday, Feb. 12th. The administration’s proposed budget will likely not reflect the new budget figures just agreed to by Congress. We expect to see flat or reduced funding proposed for adult education, making it even more critical that we impress upon Congress the need for expanded funding.
Additional information on a national call to action to support this effort will be forthcoming, and we are hopeful that we will succeed in seeing some modest increases for adult basic education programs. We will also take this opportunity to suggest that there be commensurate increases from both state and private funders who are also critical to many of our local programs.
ProLiteracy will continue to keep you up to date on policies and legislation that impact adult education. To help preserve funding to help low-literate adults, please participate in ProLiteracy’s Letters for Literacy campaign.