Today, along with Rep. Adam Smith (D-9th District), Senator Murray kicked off the In-Demand scholarship program. The program will provide internships, job shadowing, mentoring and apprenticeship opportunities that will help students chart well-defined career paths. With these qualified and enthusiastic workers, Washington state will be able to grow and remain globally competitive.

Senator Murray’s remarks follow:

Thank you, Colin, for that introduction. And thank you to Linda Nyugen [Nu-WIN] for all your hard work putting this program together. It's really great to see all of you here in Tacoma to help launch Washington’s In-Demand Scholarship Program. It's especially gratifying to see all of the business and labor partners in the room who are volunteering their time to support the Tacoma-Pierce County Workforce Development Council.

I know we've got a lot of private sector and labor representatives in the room, and I know you are a key to our success. Will you please stand up and be recognized? I know Colin will be talking to you to leverage more support to expand the program here in Pierce County, and I hope you'll be able to help out even further.

And while I am at it, let me also extend my early congratulations to David Harrison, the Chairman of our State Workforce Board.

Our board will be honored next month in Washington, D.C. by the National Association of Workforce Boards for their leadership. We're going to have a press conference on March 3rd to bring some national attention to the success you've accomplished here in the state.

Your visit to Washington, D.C. in March is timely since the President’s proposed budget cuts to workforce development programs. All of you in this room are great advocates. I hope you will use your time in Washington, D.C. to talk to your Members of Congress about the benefits that workforce development programs provide to our local economy.

Our state board and our local workforce development councils have given me the ammunition and support I need in Washington, D.C. to fight for funding and flexibility at the state and local level. The spirit of bipartisan cooperation exhibited in this room is exactly why I fought to secure this $400,000 federal appropriations earmark. Quite frankly I was very enthusiastic when the leaders of the Washington Workforce Association, the Association of Washington Business, and the Washington State Labor Council approached me with the idea for the program.

I was especially interested to learn that the In-Demand Scholarship Program will provide internships, job shadowing, mentoring and apprenticeship opportunities – which will help students chart well-defined career paths. This new program will help to provide qualified and enthusiastic workers that will allow our businesses in Washington State to grow and remain globally competitive. It will also provide young workers with the family-wage jobs they need to stay and raise their families in the Pacific Northwest.

Your efforts complement the work I'm doing in our nation’s capitol – to provide our high school students with the support and tools they need early in their lives to help them make the right career choices. I've introduced a bill that will provide high school students with the counseling and other support services they need to choose a career and become productive members of our society. My bill is called the PASS Act (P-A-S-S) and I've got information on my website at MURRAY dot SENATE dot GOV slash PASS. I hope you will take a look at my bill and see if it is an idea you can throw your support behind.

I will continue to solicit your input as we again try to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act in the Congress. As you know, the President has proposed some very different ideas about how workforce programs should be run at the local level. My travels across our state have convinced me that the partnerships envisioned when we passed WIA in 1998 are really starting to pay off.

And the energy and the partnerships that are evident in this room -- thanks to WIA -- should be reinforced and supported in Congress, not thrown out because of politics. I strongly believe that the bipartisan bill we were able to craft in the 108th Congress provided the right balance for all of the workforce stakeholders.

There's going to be a lot going on in the coming months, and I want to make sure we stay in touch, so please give your business card to my staff so I can keep you updated on our fights in Congress. Please know that you have a partner and champion in the U.S. Senate who will always be your advocate in the Congress. I'm going to continue to need your help as we move forward to create a stronger economy and a better way of life for all of the families in our state.