Funding a future workforce

Funding of Perkins Basic State Grants is important to career and technical education programs

As workforce development continues to be a challenge for roofing industry employers, NRCA remains committed to pursuing initiatives that help members address their workforce needs. Expanding CTE programs that provide more opportunities for young people to pursue rewarding roofing careers is a key strategy for addressing workforce shortages.

In recent years, NRCA has advocated for increased funding for Perkins Basic State Grants that provide federal funding for CTE programs operated at state and local levels. The grants expand opportunities for secondary and post-secondary students to learn technical knowledge and skills.

Perkins Basic State Grants originated under the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Educational Act of 1984 and have received strong bipartisan support within Congress for many years. In 2018, NRCA worked with lawmakers to pass the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act—legislation to expand funding and improve the responsiveness of the Perkins system to employer workforce needs. Support for the bill was a focus of the inaugural Roofing Day in D.C. advocacy event in 2018, and the legislation was enacted into law a few months later. The 2018 law is now being implemented to provide for more effective collaboration between employers and educational institutions when developing CTE programs.

The 2018 law authorized more than $1.4 billion annually in federal funding for Perkins Basic State Grants. With this authorization in place, Congress must take action to provide the funding on an annual basis through the federal discretionary budgeting process. Perkins Basic State Grants are funded through Congress-approved appropriations legislation that provides funding for the Department of Education, which is then distributed to the states according to population and poverty level. Congress has the discretion to fund Perkins Basic State Grants, along with many other types of federal programs, at the maximum authorized level or at some lesser amount.

Given the need for Congress to approve funding for Perkins Basic State Grants every year, NRCA has made increased funding one of its top legislative priorities and a primary focus during Roofing Day in D.C. for the past several years. NRCA’s efforts have been quite successful, with Congress providing increased funding every year since fiscal year 2021. For example, in 2023, Congress provided $50 million more than the previous year’s budget, bringing total funding for the grants to more than $1.4 billion.

Most recently, in March, Congress approved appropriations legislation that provided a $10 million increase in Perkins Basic State Grants funding for fiscal year 2024. This smaller increase reflects the highly difficult federal budgetary environment within which Congress allocates discretionary spending. The U.S. government’s total federal debt held by the public now stands at about 100% of the U.S. gross domestic product and is on a trajectory to continue growing, according to the Congressional Budget Office. As the national debt continues to rise, Congress is under increasing pressure to reign in federal spending. Therefore, many individual government programs are being targeted for smaller annual increases or even reductions in spending.

Given this problematic budgetary environment, it is even more important NRCA and allied organizations continue advocating for Perkins Basic State Grants to secure increased funding or at least prevent a potential reduction. Perkins Basic State Grants are competing with many other educational programs for a limited amount of federal funding.

NRCA recognizes the importance of Perkins Basic State Grants to strong CTE initiatives necessary to meet workforce needs. NRCA will continue advocating with lawmakers in Congress to achieve the maximum funding levels possible in the increasingly difficult budgetary environment in Washington, D.C. NRCA member engagement in grassroots advocacy to keep funding for Perkins grants strong is now more important than ever.

To contact a member of Congress to urge support of Perkins Basic State Grant funding, visit

DUANE L. MUSSER is NRCA’s vice president of government relations in Washington, D.C.


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