Washington, D.C. - Federal funding used to teach people skills so they can get better jobs and job training is not expendable according to U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., who is writing to Senate and House appropriators asking them to keep the funding in place.
Enzi spoke on the Senate floor this week in defense of the Workforce Investment Act, which funded and improved the efficiency of job training programs. Under a supplemental appropriations bill the Senate passed Tuesday, funding for the job training programs would be cut. The House version of the supplemental appropriations bill makes no such cuts. Enzi is writing to House and Senate members who will serve on a conference committee, which is charged with reconciling the two versions of the bill, asking them to adopt the House position on the job training issue.
"Rescinding funds from people who are trying to make themselves employable, contributing members of their community is not exactly skimming fat off the top," Enzi said on the Senate floor. "This cut hits bone in Wyoming and countless other states. My state, for instance, is due to receive $555,420 for dislocated workers. This is crucial in Wyoming in the effort to assist the counties that have been hard hit by unemployment. So now instead of $555,420 we will receive 62 percent of that or $345,320. That's a 38 percent cut. I can assure you it will have an adverse impact on the progress that we have made."
The text of the letter Sen. Enzi and others sent to conference committee members follows.
The Honorable Ted Stevens
Senate Committee on Appropriations
Dear Senator Stevens:
We are writing to request that the Senate conferees recede to the House position with respect to the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), which does not include any rescissions to the programs it authorizes. We believe the Senate bill's dramatic cut in current appropriations for many state and local workforce boards would significantly derail workforce development and job training activities.
The WIA streamlined the collage of job training initiatives into essentially one program, overseen by the workforce investment boards established in the 1998 legislation. Reducing appropriations for WIA doesn't just borrow from one of the federal workforce development programs, it effectively guts the workforce program. Evidence abounds to suggest that now is not the time to scale back basic skills training, re-training of displaced workers, or innovative initiatives designed to spur long-range economic development in struggling communities.
We commend you for the dedicated and responsible approach to offsetting the supplemental appropriations bill. Yours is not an easy or enviable task. As you reconcile the bills' differences in conference, we strongly urge your support of the House position with respect to preserving full funding for programs authorized under the Workforce Investment Act.
Our sincere thanks for your consideration of this request.
Michael B. Enzi