On March 30, President Obama signed the “fix healthcare bill” or Reconciliation Act of 2010 into law, which included $2 billion for the Community College and Career Training Grant Program — a new Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program that was created through the Department of Labor in last year’s stimulus bill but was never funded.
This money will be spent at $500 million a year for FY11-14 and will be awarded competitively. While ALA welcomes this provision, we are also disappointed. Since last summer, community college librarians and ALA have worked on a different proposal that could have included community college libraries.
The original Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA) proposal in H.R. 3221 was made by the White House about one year ago; it focused more on job training programs and related resources needed to support students seeking new job skills. While we are glad to see recognition of the needs of community colleges and the need to promote job skills and employment, we are disappointed that some of the programmatic initiatives that might have helped community college libraries were completely dropped. Behind-the-scenes bartering substituted this “new” Department of Labor proposal for the Department of Education’s community college programs initiatives just within the last week.
ALA will continue to work with community college supporters to seek improved recognition and funding for their libraries.