Political spin was on display during retiring Speaker Paul Ryan’s visit to pump up the re-election campaigns of Second District Congressman Jason Lewis and Third District Congressman Erik Paulsen (highlights from the Star-Tribune)
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan visited several Twin Cities businesses Monday, touting tax cuts and technical careers while also talking up the chances of two fellow Republicans facing competitive congressional races this year.
Ryan highlighted Lewis’ effort to reauthorize the Perkins Act, which funds career and technical education programs.
“We have a good economy, we’ve got good jobs that are being offered, and there are actually careers to be had, but we need people,” Ryan said.
Long-time readers of the MN Political Roundtable must have chortled when they read the plea for funding the Perkins Act and Career and Technical Education programs (CTE) … it’s been something that Democrats, led by Mark Dayton and Al Franken, have been wanting for years … as have businesses and pushed in OpEds.
Take for example this OpEd from the New Ulm Journal (highlights circa October 2011)
Manufacturers need a skilled workforce, able to keep up with technological innovations that drive productivity increases. A survey of Minnesota manufacturers in 2011 shows almost half had positions unfilled due to lack of qualified applicants. Skilled production and science and engineering occupations had the greatest shortage. Minnesota’s Southwest region, including Brown County, showed 49 percent of the manufacturers responding to the survey indicated a moderate or serious worker shortage.
There is a great need for education and training to fill this need. Manufacturers need workers with computer skills, process improvement and problem solving skills, the survey indicated. Community and technical schools are the most effective source of training, according to the survey.
That was 2011 … and the problem is even worse today.
WHY hasn’t Congress addressed this ?
Surely a #MathGuy understands that the two keys to a business today are :
(1) affordable and available credit
and (2) qualified and available employees.
And Minnesota’s self-described Math Guy (aka Erik Paulsen) should be concerned.
Problem (1) In June, for the second time in 2018, the Fed hiked a key short-term rate to a target rate between 1.75 percent and 2 percent. The Fed is expected to increase rates two more times in 2018, and three times next year.
Problem (2) Paul Ryan’s right … we have a skills gap problem — we’ve known about it (ask Mark Dayton or Al Franken), but House Republicans just refused to fund it.
So, let’s look at the Perkins Act … and how it has been a victim of Erik Paulsen’s mantra “Washington Must Do More With Less” which Third District voters have heard since his first congressional campaign (2008)
“Congress is broken, and I want to help fix it,” said Republican Erik Paulsen.
“I don’t believe that Washington has a revenue problem,” Paulsen said. “I believe they have a spending problem.”
Paulsen says the Republican Party has lost its way when it comes to fiscal responsibility, and he wishes President Bush had used his veto power to reduce government spending.
So, let’s look at the Perkins funding … (remember Erik Paulsen was elected in 2008)
In FY2009 Minnesota received $17,697,927
In FY2010 Minnesota received $17,660,428
In FY2011 Minnesota received $16,754,034
In FY2012 Minnesota received $16,684,637
In FY2013 Minnesota received $16,684,637
In FY2014 Minnesota received $16,684,637
In FY2015 Minnesota received $16,684,637
In FY2016 Minnesota received $16,684,637
In FY2017 Minnesota received $16,684,637
So, let’s acknowledge that Congressman Paulsen has kept his word … he has helped “fix” the spending problem by cutting it … even as businesses were clamouring for investment in CTE programs for years.
Funny thing is that to hear, Congressman Paulsen say it, he supports CTE … he told us so June 23 2017 Erik Paulsen Correspondence Corner.
What Speaker Ryan is praising Jason Lewis for is H.R.2353 – Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act which was passed via a voice vote on June 22, 2017.
How much credit Jason Lewis deserves is arguable … since it was really led by Glenn Thompson and was a tweaking of legislation approved in the previous session (by a vote of 405-5 with all five negative votes from Republicans.)
So why hasn’t the Senate passed the House bill ? They’ve had over a year … well, maybe because it is inadequate.
While the House just seemed to take the previous session bill and tweaked it, the Senate has been working on a bipartisan approach … encompassing a number of Senators ideas.
On June 26, 2018 Senate HELP Committee voted to approve the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.
The Senate bill would reauthorize the Perkins Act for a total of six years, covering FY 2019 through FY 2024.
For the Title I Basic State Grant program, the bill would authorize $1.229 billion for FY 2019 and gradually increase this authorization level to $1.318 billion in FY 2024, which represents a 10.57 percent increase over the course of the Act compared to the amount Congress allocated to the Perkins Basic State Grant program in FY 2018.
Minnesota Senator Tina Smith, a member of the HELP Committee, issued a press release
“I’ve met with teachers, students, administrators, as well as business and industry leaders across Minnesota who understand that in our changing economy we need to improve how we prepare students for 21st Century jobs,” Sen. Smith said. “This bill will help open doors and opportunities by ensuring our training programs can adapt and respond to workforce needs. Students, workers, and businesses all stand to benefit and I will continue to push this and other improvements to how we train our future workforce.”
Over 400 businesses have expressed support of the legislation, as well as Minnesota State:
“Minnesota State strongly supports the reauthorization of the Perkins Basic State Grant, authorized under Title I of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act,” Devinder Malhotra, Chancellor of Minnesota State said. “Perkins grants are the principal federal investment in our Career and Technical Education (CTE) system, and is one of the only federal programs that builds the capacity of secondary and postsecondary institutions to offer CTE programs that are academically rigorous and aligned to the needs of business and industry”.
Workforce issues have been a priority for Sen. Smith. Earlier this year she introduced the Investing in 21st Century Workforce Partnerships Act and cosponsored the Community College to Career Fund Act. In March, she kicked off a series of listening sessions across the state to talk with Minnesotans about expanding workforce development opportunities.
Hmmm … interesting how Speaker Ryan is hyping Erik Paulsen, who can claim responsibility for reducing funding to Minnesota, and Jason Lewis, without mentioning that the Senate has reworked their entire legislation.
It’s actually comical to read the press releases from Republican senators, like Lamar Alexander, Richard Burr, Mike Enzi Rob Portman, Todd Young and others, and then
hear Speaker Ryan praise his puppets.
Minnesotans know where Tina Smith stands … but what about Karin Housley ?
Now, that the Senate is moving to pass a better bill, the pressure must be applied to the #MNTrumpTrio (Tom Emmer, Jason Lewis and Erik Paulsen) not to object to helping our students, workers and the businesses that need Perkins funded.
Remember passing a fancy-named bill does not guarantee funding … funding is done through the Appropriations process, so Paulsen’s #WashingtonMustDoMoreWithLess agenda could reduce Perkins funding.
SIDENOTE : While Speaker Ryan wants to be focused on the past, others are focused on the future. Republican Congressman Glenn Thompson and Senator Amy Klobuchar have offered a bipartisan bicameral legislation H.R. 6250 / S. 3145 The Skills Investment Act so that workers and employers can use the tax-advantaged accounts to pay for training programs that teach them new skills.
HR 6250 has been assigned to Erik Paulsen’s Ways and Means Committee.