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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Expanding Opportunities for Latino Families in the 2011 Federal Budget

There has been much debate over the 2011 Federal Budget. Senator Evan Bayh recently stated that frustrations with debating the Federal Budget in the current challenging environment in Washington contributed to the many reasons he decided to not seek re-election to the United States Senate. I know from my work in the Texas Legislature that debating and writing budget legislation is a daunting task.

Since the budget information was released at the beginning of this month, analysts and journalists have written about what it means for individual agencies, specific issues, and states. I want to take some time to highlight a portion of the Federal Budget which outlines the money and programs going towards expanding opportunities for Latino families.

According to White House statistics, Latinos will account for 60 percent of the Nation's population growth between 2005 and 2050. The White House recognizes that how Latinos recover from the recession is critical to both the immediate and long term health of our economy and that Latinos will continue to drive the growth of the labor force in the decades to come. Outlined in the budget are programs to give Latino families the tools they need to continue their contribution to the American way of life. Visit the budget website to see a full list of programs. Here are a few excerpts from the White House Budget fact sheet on Latino families:

Increase Funding for Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers Employment Program. The Budget includes a $2 million increase – for a total of $87 million -- to provide grants to community-based organizations and public agencies that assist migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families attain greater economic stability by providing career guidance, training, and supportive services, including housing assistance. The additional funding in 2011 will allow grantees to serve more participants and expand their outreach and recruitment activities.

Promote Citizenship and Integration. The Budget increases support for integration of new immigrants, with $18 million identified to promote citizenship through education and preparation programs, replication of promising practices in integration for use by communities across the Nation, and expansion of innovative English learning tools. The Budget also increases funding for the English Language Acquisition State Grants program by $50 million, for a total investment of $800 million, in order to help more students learn English and meet challenging state academic content and student academic achievement standards.

Increase Funding for Hispanic Serving Institutions. The Budget proposes $642 million, an increase of $30 million over the 2010 level, to support Hispanic Serving Institutions and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) through the Aid for Institutional Development programs and the Aid for Hispanic- Serving Institutions programs. Of that amount, specifically $123 million will support developing Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs). In addition to this discretionary increase for HSIs, the Budget holds constant $10.5 million in discretionary funding to promote postbaccalaureate opportunities for Hispanic Americans. The Administration also supports legislation passed by the House of Representatives and pending in the Senate that would provide $2.55 billion in mandatory funding to MSIs over 10 years. The legislation would also help MSIs through programs such as the American Graduation Initiative that lends new support for community colleges, and the Access and Completion Fund, which would make grants to States, institutions of higher education, and other organizations to support innovative strategies to increase the number of students entering and completing college. The pending legislation would also guarantee student access to education loans and ensure high-quality services by competitive, private providers. Finally, the Budget proposes to launch a comprehensive science and technology workforce program to engage undergraduates at Historically Black, Tribal, and Hispanic-serving colleges and universities by realigning and building on existing programs. Funding for these activities would increase by over 14 percent to $103 million.

*Source: The White House Federal Budget Fact Sheet, Expanding Opportunities for Latino Families.