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Update on WIA Reauthorization

Posted on 04/02/2012


The Workforce Investment Act (WIA), which authorizes federal funding for adult education among other things, was enacted in 1998. It has been continued every year since then, but always with the hope that one of these years it will be reauthorized by congress with updated approaches and requirements for adult education programs, as there have been many changes in the field and in society since 1998.

On March 20, U.S. Representatives John Tierney, George Miller, and Ruben Hinojosa introduced a House Democratic bill (HR4227) (www), the Workforce Investment Act of 2012, to reform and reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. This bill takes the bipartisan Senate WIA Draft as its starting point. There is also a Republican version, the Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012 (HR4297) (www) introduced on March 29 by Rep. Foxx on behalf of Reps. McKeon and Heck. Rep. Foxx chairs the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

The Senate version of the bill, the Adult Education and Economic Growth (AEEG) Act of 2012 (S. 2117) (www), was introduced in Senator Webb on February 16. The Senate bill focuses on workforce development and incentivizes the use of technology to increase access to adult education programs. Each bill will progress through the committee system, and once each house passes their version there will be a conference committee to resolve the differences, so the process is just beginning for this year.

At the same time, the federal budget must be approved, with a designation of funding for adult education which is separate from the reauthorization process, so that adult education will receive continued funding under the current legislation if the reauthorizing legislation does not pass. Currently adult education is designated to receive a slightly lower amount of funding than in the current year.