Cuellar-Backed Bills Support Transitions from Poverty to Workforce
Two bipartisan bills pass House of Reps to help struggling Americans improve their own lives through good jobs, technical education
Last week, Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) took three separate steps to help struggling Americans lift themselves from poverty by pursuing education and entering the workforce. Local leaders including the Superintendent of Floresville Independent School District applauded the decisions.
On Friday, June 23, he voted in support of the Accelerating Individuals into the Workforce Act, which passed the House of Representatives. On Thursday, June 22, he voted for the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which was also successful, and which contained elements of legislation that he had co-sponsored, the New HOPE Act. On Wednesday, June 21, he announced that he had increased funding for Job Corps by $15 million, to a total $1.7 billion for the 2017 fiscal year.
Congressman Cuellar said:
“My constituents send me to Washington for solutions to the real challenges that affect them every day – like unemployment and underemployment. They work hard to support their families, so I work hard to give them the opportunities they deserve. I supported both of these bills for the same reason I increased the Job Corps funding: because these programs let Americans find pathways out of poverty through good jobs.”
The bipartisan Accelerating Individuals into the Workforce Act redirects $100 million from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Contingency Fund to apprenticeship, subsidized employment, and career pathways programs for one year. The government will measure the success of these programs, and if they prove effective at transitioning poor individuals into careers, they may receive the same or additional funding in the future.
The bipartisan Strengthening Career and Technical Education Act gives state and local career and technical education (CTE) programs more flexibility to update their programs for 21st century job needs, to support students from disadvantaged communities, to more effectively measure their results, and to target federal dollars where they are needed most. CTE programs, usually in partnership with local institutions like technical schools or job centers, help train students and workers for high-skill jobs in fields from information technology (IT) to construction to manufacturing.
Congressman Cuellar represents all or part of nearly 40 school districts that, combined, receive more than $5 billion in federal funding for their CTE programs through Carl D. Perkins grants. (Funding details available online: http://tea.texas.gov/Finance_and_Grants/Grants/Applying_for_a_Grant/Entitlements,_Grants_Administration_Division/.) The districts that will benefit from this legislation include Judson ISD, Floresville ISD, Jourdanton ISD, Lytle ISD, Pleasanton ISD, Poteet ISD, Hidalgo ISD, McMullen ISD, Rio Grande City ISD, Laredo ISD, Zapata County ISD, Roma ISD, La Vernia ISD, Poth ISD, Poteet ISD, and dozens more.
Dr. Sherri Bays, Superintendent of Floresville Independent School District, said:
“Floresville ISD works to make every graduate Future-Ready; Career and Technology Education plays an integral part in helping us achieve that goal. Perkins funds help support programs like Welding, Information Technology, Culinary Arts, Criminal Justice, Automotive Technology, and many others, that teach our students the skills necessary to successfully step into the 21st century workplace. Supporting the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act shows that Congressman Cuellar, and others like him, understand the importance of making funds available that help our students, and students across our state, lead prosperous lives.”
The Strengthening Career and Technical Education Act also contained language from the New HOPE Act, legislation co-sponsored by Congressman Cuellar which provides governors the authority to consolidate or eliminate unnecessary and burdensome work licenses or certifications that provide limited consumer protection. As Congressman Cuellar said when he introduced the legislation:
“When most Americans think of professions that require government certifications, they probably picture airline pilots, electricians, or doctors. However, more than a quarter of all American workers need some kind of government license for their jobs these days, from hair stylists to florists – and the requirements vary widely from state to state.
In Texas, getting those licenses requires an average $304 in fees, 326 days of training, and two exams. Yet often these expensive requirements do not actually protect consumers; they are intentional efforts from people already in a given profession, to make it harder for new folks to compete with them.
This legislation will give governors the flexibility to remove licensing requirements that just don’t make sense. It will create a better environment for entrepreneurs to create jobs. And it will save time and money for working people in thousands of occupations.”
Job Corps is a free training program that helps American youth from low-income families develop job skills and find employment. Congressman Cuellar successfully increased the funding by $15 million compared to last year, as the program has been highly effective in Texas and nationwide. More information on Job Corps funding is available on Congressman Cuellar’s website: https://cuellar.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=401323