State of the Union Rhetoric vs. Reality: Job Training Proposal
News reports indicate that in his State of the Union Address, President Bush will propose $120 million in "new" job training grants at community colleges. The problem is, the proposal comes after Bush has repeatedly slashed job training and vocational education programs. In fact, over the last three years, he has proposed at least $1 billion in cuts to job training and vocational education:
- Proposing $300M Cut to Vocational Ed: In his 2004 budget, Bush proposed a 25% cut ($300 million) to federal funding of vocational education.
- Proposing $60M Cut to Adult Job Training: In his 2004 budget, Bush proposed to consolidate job training grants to states for adult services into a single grant program, totaling $3.080 billion – a $60 million cut from the grants it consolidates from a year ago.
- Proposing $225M Cut to Youth Job Training: Despite a 16% unemployment rate among those 18-24, Bush proposed in 2004 to eliminate all funding for the Youth Opportunity Grants – a program that provides job training to the nation's youth. This program was funded at $225M in FY 2002; the Bush Administration requested FY 2003 funding of only $45M, a cut of $180 million. And in 2004, Bush proposed to eliminate the program entirely.
- Enacting Freeze Funding and Cuts: In the 2004 omnibus spending bill, Congress approved the President's request to eliminate youth job training, and freeze funding for other job training and vocational education programs, refusing to keep the funding on pace with inflation. As the Salt Lake Tribute noted, overall spending on job training is roughly flat "and work-force training advocates note that the Administration and Congress have failed to recognize how little the government spends on training."
- 2003 Proposal to Cut $476M Out of Job Training: Bush' 2003 Budget proposed a 9% ($476 million) cut to the overall budget for job training programs.
- 2002 Proposal to Slash 20% out of Even Start: According to AP, in 2002, Bush proposed "to slash funding 20% for the Even Start program, which offers tutoring to preschoolers and literacy and job training for their parents" – the very program he was touting in New Mexico [2/4/02].