KRA Corporation examines where the Workforce Investment Act Reauthorization stands as this year draws to a close.
With questions circulating about the future of important federally-funded programs, the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and its pending reauthorization should receive some special mention. Since it was last revisited in 2003, the failure to reauthorize P.L.105-220 has claimed some invaluable funding streams for workforce development programs.
It has not all been "can kicking" down the aisle. There have been reformation and reauthorization efforts on both sides of the political equation in recent years. This year, the Senate approved S. 1356 and the House passed H.R. 803, both of which offered potential alternatives to the current incarnation of the now-annually appropriated system.
As reported in the Congressional Research Service in a comparison of the current law and the marked up version of S. 1356 , some of the major changes include: “the adoption of primary indicators of performance across all WIA titles, the requirement of a Unified State Plan that includes all core programs, the authorization of innovation and replication grants, greater emphasis on economic and employment outcomes for adult education programs, and expanded services for youth and students with disabilities.”
The same service reported that H.R. 803 would “maintain the One-Stop delivery system established by WIA but would repeal numerous programs authorized by WIA and other federal legislation, and it would consolidate other programs into a new single funding source—the Workforce Investment Fund. Adult Education and Vocational Rehabilitation retain separate titles and funding in H.R. 803.”
It is evident that there are some considerable differences in the WIA Reauthorization efforts—which the National Association of Regional Councils compiled a side-by-side comparison of—with the major difference existing within the states’ roles in fund management.
The House version overhauls the system to decentralize the funding with states being given more autonomy to spend as they see fit in, while the Senate’s more or less maintains the status quo, requiring a submission of a state unified plan to the federal government.
As in previous attempts at WIA reauthorization, this current iteration has failed to produce a shift in policy. Despite a report being ordered on July 31, 2013 report, S. 1356 is still awaiting full Senate consideration and H.R 803 has lain dormant since it was passed in the House of Representatives on March 15, 2013.
As 2013 draws to a close, we at KRA Corporation remain confident that the current initiatives and recent Federal programmatic additions aimed at arming the U.S. workforce with the 21st-Century skills to be globally competitive and bolstering the economy will serve as the impetus for a bi-partisan push for WIA reauthorization in the near future.
Additionally, KRA Corporation looks forward to lending our legislative support and extensive programmatic experience to making the eventual process a fruitful and successful venture.