Written By: Charles Bruce, Future Business Educator
Despite recently publicized budgetary concerns, both congressional appropriations committees have allocated a flat level of funding for the Carl. D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act for the 2012 fiscal year. For funding to take effect, congress will still have to pass the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill, which includes Perkins funding.
Currently, this portion of the federal government is being funded via a continuing resolution, which expires on December 16. If the appropriates bill is not passed, it is possible that payments under Perkins will be interrupted. However, Congress will still have the option of passing another continuing resolution and keeping the government open while they negotiate passage of the appropriations bill.
Many consider flat funding for Perkins a significant victory for career and technical education. The Budget Control Act of 2011 stipulates $1.2 trillion in broad based federal spending cuts over then next ten years. Given this reality, flat funding is a sign of broad congressional support for both Perkins and career and technical education. It is important to note that flat funding can be viewed as a cut in inflation-adjusted dollars. The $1.27 billion funding level has not changed for the last several years, despite an increase in enrollment for many career and technical education programs during that time.
Though flat funding for Perkins is a significant development, congress will need to renew the Perkins Act for funding to continue past the end of fiscal year 2012. It expires in its current form at the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2012. The current bill was passed in 2006 with strong bipartisan support. Given the job shortages in many technical fields, congress will likely see the need to continue investment in career and technical education. However, the congressional ability to fund discretionary spending will still be constrained by the Budget Control Act. If the current appropriations bill is any indicator, congress will continue to make career and technical education a priority.