Impacts of Sequestration
As reported by the California Employment Development Department, starting on April 28, “more than 400,000 unemployed Californians will feel the impact of the federal government’s sequestration spending cuts when their federal unemployment insurance benefits (UI) are reduced nearly 18 percent…” These cuts will specifically impact the amount of benefits individuals receive who are just moving to the federal extension portion of UI (the additional 47 weeks under federal extension benefits.) In addition, these sequestration cuts will impact the State’s administration of the UI program over the next fifteen months. This cut will cause a significant hardship to those who can ill afford benefit cuts…the long-term unemployed.
If these sequester cuts are left in place indefinitely, they will have a significant impact on all workforce development funding and the programs they support, which NOVA is already seeing in the recently released U.S. Department of Labor FY13 State Allotment.
On March 23, the Senate passed a budget that includes a projected deficit reduction of $1.85 trillion over 10 years from a combination of spending cuts and nearly $1 trillion in tax increases, with $960 billion going to replace the sequester cuts and $10 billion going to worker training. On March 21, the House passed a budget that would cut spending by nearly $5 trillion over the next decade that includes reduced funding for Medicare, Medicaid and programs to aid the poor including food stamps, although no cuts to Social Security; government spending would hit its lowest levels in 65 years. The House plan would also repeal President Obama’s health care reform law. Thus far, there appears to be no progress made in convening a budget conference committee to reconcile these vastly different budgets approved by the House and Senate. The appropriations committees are expected to move forward guided by very different expectations and a $91 billion gap between the House and Senate in spending limits.
In the meantime, to keep the government funded until the end of the federal fiscal year, on March 21, Congress passed a $1.2 trillion Continuing Resolution that keeps in place the $85 billion automatic across-the-board sequester cuts.
Federal Workforce Investment Act Reauthorization
On March 15, the House voted to approve H.R. 803 (Foxx, et.al), Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act, the House Republican proposal for the reauthorization of the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA). The bill would consolidate 35 programs and funding streams into a single block grant, the Workforce Investment Fund; freeze funding at current spending levels at about $6 billion for the next seven years; strengthen the role of employers in decision-making and on the boards by eliminating 19 federal mandates; and give more control to the state boards and the governors in designating local workforce areas. House Democrats and the White House have expressed concerns that this bill will make it more difficult for at-risk and disadvantaged populations to access job training without dedicated funding for specific programs.
Proposals for WIA reauthorization are being discussed in the Senate that may mirror a bill authored by Senator Patty Murray during the previous legislative session.
At the state level, SJR 10(Lieu) was introduced that urges Congress to reauthorize WIA and include specific policies and strategies in support of the local workforce investment community.
Changes in Leadership at the U.S. Department of Labor
On March 18, President Obama nominated Thomas E. Perez to be the next U.S. Secretary of Labor. Mr. Perez currently serves as the Justice Department’s assistant attorney general for civil rights and previously as Secretary of Labor for the state of Maryland. Mr. Perez indicated in his first nomination hearing that his main focus will be on jobs and the reauthorization of the federal Workforce Investment Act. Also, at the U.S. Department of Labor, Assistant Secretary of the Employment and Training Administration, Jane Oates, has resigned that is believed to be due to budgetary missteps with the Job Corps program.
California Workforce Association Announces New Executive Director
Mr. Bob Lanter has been appointed as the new Executive Director of the California Workforce Association (CWA). Mr. Lanter worked for CWA about ten years ago as deputy director and then moved on to become the Contra Costa County WIB director, a federal project officer for the U.S. Department of Labor San Francisco office during the days of the economic stimulus funding (ARRA) and, more recently, a workforce development consultant. Bob officially started his new position at CWA on April 15.
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