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(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Budget Committee, questioned Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew at a hearing of the Senate Budget Committee. Murray, who chairs the Employment and Workplace Safety HELP Subcommittee, pushed Lew on the Administration’s proposals to cut investments in workforce training programs in the 2012 budget.

Senator Murray’s question to Lew on workforce training cuts in the budget:

“Mr. Lew, there are about 14 million people in this country who are unemployed -- more than 40% of whom have been jobless for over six months.  So I’m very concerned that the administration is choosing to cut funding for job training programs. 

“I was at home recently and I talked to a small business owner who serves on his local workforce investment board.  He was telling me about a recent hire he made through a one-stop career center, and the success of that—particularly because it was a veteran that he had hired through that.

“And it just seems to me at this time when we are trying to match skills and give people the skills they need with the unemployment rate so high, that job training is really a critical investment.

“So I wanted to know if you could tell me the administration’s rationale for these cuts, at a time when jobs and economic recovery should be our central focus?”

Director Lew:

“Senator, we have had obviously many difficult decisions to make in this budget to live within the spending restraints. And one of the things we’ve done is consolidated programs in areas where there was duplication.  We’ve looked to try and fund programs that were high-performing programs, and this is a case where we have, in training and employment services, funded at roughly the level that they were at in 2010—it’s a little bit higher.

“In general we looked at 2010 as kind of the base because we don’t know what 2011 is with appropriations still undecided for the year. So we looked to put together a program that was overall balanced and investing in the programs that work, and consolidating.

“But I would be happy to get back to you with more details.”

Senator Murray:

“I would appreciate that. I just think that it’s really important that we don’t leave this out when that is what is getting people jobs today.”