Educating a Competitive Workforce
The President’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget demonstrates that we can make critical investments to strengthen the middle class, create jobs, and grow the economy while continuing to cut the deficit in a balanced way.
The President believes we must invest in the true engine of America’s economic growth – a rising and thriving middle class. He is focused on addressing three fundamental questions: How do we attract more jobs to our shores? How do we equip our people with the skills needed to do the jobs of the 21st Century? How do we make sure hard work leads to a decent living? The Budget presents the President’s plan to address each of these questions.
To make America once again a magnet for jobs, the Budget invests in high-tech manufacturing and innovation, clean energy, and infrastructure, while cutting red tape to help businesses grow. To give workers the skills they need to compete in the global economy, it invests in education from pre-school to job training. To ensure hard work is rewarded, it raises the minimum wage to $9 an hour so a hard day’s work pays more.
The Budget does all of these things as part of a comprehensive plan that reduces the deficit and puts the Nation on a sound fiscal course. Every new initiative in the plan is fully paid for, so they do not add a single dime to the deficit. The Budget also incorporates the President’s compromise offer to House Speaker Boehner to achieve another $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction in a balanced way. When combined with the deficit reduction already achieved, this will allow us to exceed the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction, while growing the economy and strengthening the middle class. By including this compromise proposal in the Budget, the President is demonstrating his willingness to make tough choices and his seriousness about finding common ground to further reduce the deficit.
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To equip our workers with the skills they need to fill the jobs of the 21st Century economy, the Budget includes investments and reforms in education and training. It makes a major new commitment to early childhood education; sustains investments in elementary and secondary schools, while ramping up innovation; redoubles our focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education to prepare our students for the jobs of tomorrow; and includes new initiatives to make college more affordable.
To educate a competitive workforce, the 2014 Budget will:
Increase Access to High-Quality Early Childhood Education. To build a foundation for success in the formative early years of life, the Budget outlines a proposal to increase access to high-quality early childhood education with the Preschool for All initiative. This initiative invests $75 billion over 10 years in high-quality preschool and is financed by raising the Federal tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products, which would also have substantial public health impacts, particularly by reducing youth smoking. In addition, the Budget makes three complementary investments, including Preschool Development Grants, to help States build the infrastructure so they can participate in Preschool for All; an Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership fund to increase access to high-quality early learning environments; and an extension and expansion of the evidence-based voluntary home visiting program to provide our most vulnerable parents and children with the education and services to ensure our youngest children develop into healthy learners in safe homes.
Provide High-Quality Preschool for All. In partnership with the States, the Budget provides all low- and moderate-income four-year-olds with high-quality preschool, while also encouraging States to serve additional four-year-olds from middle-income families. The initiative also promotes access to full-day kindergarten and high-quality early education programs for children under age four. To support this effort, the Budget also proposes a $750 million investment in Preschool Development Grants to ensure that States willing to commit to expanding preschool access are able to make the critical investments necessary to serve their four-year-olds in high-quality programs.
Invest in High-Quality Infant and Toddler Care. The Budget provides $1.6 billion for companion investments in high-quality early learning for infants and toddlers through new Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships.
Invest in Effective Parent and Family Strategies. The Budget also provides $15 billion to extend and expand evidence-based voluntary home visiting programs that allow nurses, social workers, and other professionals to connect families to tools that positively impact the child’s health, development, and ability to learn.
Redesign High School. The Budget creates a new, competitive $300 million fund to redesign high schools to focus on providing challenging and relevant learning experiences, while promoting and developing partnerships with colleges and employers that improve instruction and prepare students to continue education or transition into skilled jobs.
Strengthen Career and Technical Education. In addition, the budget proposes to strengthen and reform career and technical education to better align programs with the needs of employers and higher education to ensure graduates are poised to succeed.
Improve College Affordability and Value. The Budget proposes to improve college affordability and value with a continued commitment to Pell Grants; budget-neutral student loan reform that will make interest rates more market-based; a $1 billion Race to the Top fund to support competitive grants to States that drive higher education reform, while doing more to contain tuition rates; a $260 million First in the World fund to spur cutting-edge innovations that decrease college costs and boost graduation rates; and reforms to Federal campus-based aid to reward colleges that set responsible tuition policy, provide a high-quality education, and better serve students with financial need.
Expand Promise Neighborhoods. The Budget makes a significant $300 million investment in the Department of Education’s Promise Neighborhoods program, an initiative that supports high-need communities that combine effective, cradle-to-career services for children and families with comprehensive reforms centered on high-quality schools. This investment would expand Promise Neighborhoods to a broad set of communities as well as support the President’s new Promise Zones proposal, which will align a number of first-term initiatives to partner with 20 hard hit communities.
Prepare Students for STEM Careers in the 21st Century Economy. The Budget proposes a comprehensive reorganization of Federal STEM education programs to make better use of resources and improve outcomes in four areas: K-12 instruction; undergraduate education; graduate fellowships; and education activities that typically take place outside the classroom. As part of the effort to improve K-12 instruction, it also invests in recruiting and preparing 100,000 STEM teachers within a decade and creating a new STEM Master Teachers Corps.
Promote New Approaches to Job Training and Employment Services. As the economy changes, training and employment programs must innovate and adapt to help American workers gain the skills they need to find good jobs and new careers. The Budget includes several initiatives to ensure these goals are achieved.
Modernize, Streamline, and Strengthen the Delivery of Training and Employment Services. Today more than 40 programs at 11 Federal agencies deliver job training and employment services. The Administration is exploring opportunities to revisit how the Federal Government funds job training programs that serve overlapping populations. For example, the Budget proposes a universal displaced worker program that will reach over a million workers a year with core services, including job-search assistance and skills training, combining the best elements of existing programs. Any reform must ensure that the needs of particularly vulnerable job-seekers and workers continue to be met and that jobseekers and workers can easily find out how well job training providers and programs are performing.
Drive Innovation in Training and Employment Services. The Budget provides $150 million for the Workforce Innovation Fund, which tests new States and regional ideas for better ways of organizing, evaluating, and improving the delivery of services to help workers gain skills and find jobs. The Budget also provides $80 million to increase the set-aside for governors in the Workforce Investment Act formula grants to boost States’ capacity to engage in program improvements and reform. And the Budget provides $25 million to test ways to improve employment outcomes for older Americans.
Reform Community Colleges to Meet Employer Needs. The Budget funds an $8 billion Community College to Career Fund jointly run by the Departments of Labor and Education to support State and community college partnerships with businesses and other stakeholders to build the skills of American workers. This program will build on the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grants, for which 2014 is the final year of funding.
Create Pathways to Work for Every American. Investing in our nation’s low-income youth, and connecting those who have experienced long-term unemployment to jobs, is critical to building long-term prosperity and ensuring that our economic recovery reaches all Americans. The Budget creates a $12.5 billion Pathways Back to Work fund to make it easier for workers to remain connected to the workforce and gain new skills for long-term employment. This initiative will support summer and year round jobs for low-income youth, subsidized employment opportunities and job training for unemployed and low income adults, and other promising strategies designed to lead to employment. The Budget also proposes a $4 billion Reemployment NOW program, which helps States fund innovative strategies to connect workers receiving unemployment insurance and other long-term unemployed individuals with job opportunities.
Make Our Schools Safer. The President’s plan to reduce gun violence and increase school safety requires that we invest not only in preparing our schools for emergencies but also in creating safe and nurturing climates to prevent future tragedies. The Budget provides $112 million in new funds for the Department of Education to help schools develop and implement emergency preparedness plans; create safer and more nurturing school climates through evidence-based behavioral intervention practices; provide support and services to children exposed to pervasive violence; collect data on school safety and climate; and highlight best practices regarding school behavioral intervention and discipline policies, including the equitable implementation of these policies. The Budget also includes $150 million at the Department of Justice to support the hiring of school resource officers, counselors, and other mental health professionals in schools, as well as other school safety investments. These investments will complement additional efforts of the Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, and Education to support comprehensive school safety strategies and to increase access to mental health services.