Saturday, April 19, 2008

Bush Guts Arkansas Workforce Training Funding by $4.3 Million

The Bush administration dealt a “staggering blow” to Arkansas’ economic development efforts by taking back $4.3 million in money already allocated for workforce training programs, Gov. Mike Beebe said yesterday.

The move by the federal Department of Labor rescinds funds for the Workforce Investment Act by $250 million nationwide. Rescission of the funds, which are vital to spurring the national economy, could not come at a worse time, Beebe said, with many economists saying the nation is experiencing a recession and predicting tougher times ahead.

“Who was thinking about the plight of the laid-off worker in Searcy or the 18-year-old high school graduate in Stuttgart when bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., decided to pull back support for workforce development?” Beebe said in his weekly radio address, which blasted the Bush administration.

Almost all of the money being taken back was already obligated for training contracts with colleges and other institutions to help unemployed and underemployed Arkansans get jobs, Beebe said. Some of the money was committed six months before word of the rescission, the governor said.

On Thursday, the Department of Workforce Services and the Arkansas Workforce Investment Board began presenting reduction amounts for the 10 Local Workforce Investment areas across the state. Three programs at each center — the adult service, the youth service, and the dislocated worker service — will be affected. Those services provide training, as well as support services, like transportation and child care.

Local workforce offices could be temporarily shuttered or their employees could be laid off for an indefinite amount of time, Beebe said. He said he anticipated more than 1,900 people will either receive fewer benefits of none at all, and some locations will no longer provide summer youth-employment programs, which aim to get kids off streets and into careers.

“It will certainly impose a long-term, negative impact on the confidence of workers, employers, and potential employers in workforce-development programs all across
Arkansas,” he said.

1 comment:

Training Contracts said...

Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., noted that she opposed the rescission in February 2007 when it was part of Bush’s fiscal year 2008 budget, but that it was later passed in the $550 billion omnibus bill, “which funded other priorities critical to our state, including children’s nutrition, law enforcement, highways, housing and our state’s military installations.