(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, President Bush promoted his new plan to provide “new” money to community colleges to help retrain workers. Unfortunately, this funding is actually being siphoned from other successful retraining efforts. U.S. Senator Patty Murray, the highest ranking Democrat on the Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety, spoke out against the Administration’s short-sighted proposal.
“In Washington state, we know all too well that the key to getting displaced workers back on their feet and preparing for success in a changing workforce is investing in retraining programs.
Washington state has lost tens of thousands of good-paying manufacturing jobs over the last four years and our unemployment rate has been among the highest in the nation. We also know that 75 percent of our current workers will need to be retrained just to maintain the jobs they have.
Unfortunately, this Administration continues to propose cuts to programs that are vital to maintaining a skilled workforce and a growing economy.
Today, the President promoted a plan that is little more than a bait and switch at the cost of displaced workers nationwide.
The truth is that the President is stealing half the funding for his $250 million proposal directly from the Workforce Investment Act – a program that trains dislocated workers. And he is proposing additional cuts to WIA this year.
The President’s budget also consolidates programs for dislocated workers, youth and other employment services into a block grant and cuts the funding by nearly $350 million. This is the wrong message to send to families and workers struggling to get back on their feet after our economic downturn. And it is the wrong message to send to business owners who are desperately seeking skilled workers.
I support increased investments in worker training programs, but that is not what the President is proposing. The President’s plan is a rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul policy that will leave too many workers out in the cold.”