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August 10, 2006 8:57 AM CDT

Workforce Investment Act


The House and Senate will soon be naming Conferees to negotiate legislation to renew worker-training programs, as the bill that the Senate passed the week of June 26 differs significantly from the House version.

The Workforce Investment Act, the nation's main law governing training programs has not been reauthorized since 1998 (PL 105-220). A rewrite of the law has been stalled by partisan disagreement over block grants and funding for religious groups, as well as Democrats' concerns that they would be shut out of the conference on the bill. The law governs training provided by local nonprofits and government agencies to youths, veterans and seasonal migrant workers. The 1998 rewrite of the law consolidated more than 60 training programs into state block grants and established "One Stop Career Centers" where the unemployed could apply for aid and receive job counseling. Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) who is Sheparding the bill through the conference process, said recently, "This bill sends a clear message that we are serious about helping our workers and employers remain competitive and about closing the skills gap that is putting America's long-term competitiveness in jeapordy."

Two important provisions of the bill include:

  1. S. 250 would reauthorize the $1.3 billion Perkins vocational program, which provides grants to states to develop and support vocational training programs.
  2. It would eliminiate the prohibition on using the Perkins funds to provide funding under the School-to-Work Opportunities acts of 1991 and 1994.

If you have any questions regarding this issue please feel free to contact me.

About the Author

Jessica Johnson Bennett was the Director of Government Affairs for MCAA. She has an extensive background in public affairs and government relations. Her expertise in strategic planning, PAC management and operations help on key policy issues.


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