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Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) introduced the American Workforce Act, a bill that overhauls workforce education. The legislation provides high school graduates with a 9,000-dollar workforce training voucher, used to participate in education programs designed by employers for jobs in their industry.

Vouchers would be paid for in part by taxing wealthy private college endowments. Bill text is here.

“For decades, the federal government has spent billions propping up bloated colleges that serve—often poorly—a minority of our citizens. Meanwhile, the majority of Americans, who don’t go to college, are left behind. In fact, the federal government spends eight times more on college for the few than it does on job training for the many. My bill will right that wrong by investing heavily in a new workforce education strategy to help working Americans get ahead,” said Cotton.

“The often well-meaning but also self-serving embrace by elites of College-for-All has done untold damage to American workers and families. The American Workforce Act is a landmark proposal on the path to a better education system that offers many tickets besides college to the middle class,” said Oren Cass, executive director of American Compass.

The bill would create a $9,000 federal voucher available to prospective “trainees,” who are defined as any citizen with a high school degree or GED, but without a bachelor’s degree or higher. There would be an additional $1,000 bonus to employers for each trainee who is hired after completing the workforce training program.

It also requires participating employers to provide training for positions paid at least 80 percent of the local median household income. Participating employers would be required to use E-Verify. Employers would be given flexibility to build their own training programs or delegate the training to a valid third-party entity like a trade association, community college, high school, non-profit or union.

A one-percent tax on the fair market value of endowments held by private colleges that have more than 500 full-time enrolled students, have endowments worth more than $2.5 billion and $500,000 per full-time enrolled student and do not have a religious mission would be levied.

Click here to view a bill summary—a brief overview is below.


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