I recently traveled to the East Coast for the annual Access DC advocacy trip, joining over 150 members of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and a senior delegation from the Hollywood Chamber where I serve on the Executive Committee of the Board of Governors.
This was a well-organized three-day event with panels that informed and provoked discussion, including presentations by Rep. Adam Schiff and Senator Dianne Feinstein, but the primary goal was to participate in advocacy trips to Capitol Hill for meetings with legislators and their senior staff.
We met with Democrat senior staff for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee to advocate for maintaining critical funding in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) that supports the educational attainment of students with barriers. Additionally, we met with the Republican staff member for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce to raise the same issues around HEA, and to discuss maintaining or increasing funding for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
We arrived just as Congress was negotiating the Omnibus bill that would fund the federal government for the balance of the year. The bill included appropriations for WIOA, which is the sole source of funding for America’s Job Centers and WorkSource Centers nationwide. There had been grave concerns that proposed cuts recommended by the Administration would have slashed workforce development initiatives but the good news is that the intense national lobbying efforts within our sector ultimately prevailed.
According to the non-profit National Skills Coalition, the $1.3 trillion omnibuses reflected increased spending levels for key education and workforce development programs. Every dollar of that funding represents an opportunity to serve more people with barriers to employment. It means more stories of success for individuals and families seeking to improve their lives.
–Mark R. Edwards