Durbin: Now is Not The Time to Cut Programs That Help Get People Back to Work

[WOODSTOCK, IL] – Displaced workers will lose access to job retraining, career counseling and job listings as the result of drastic federal spending cuts proposed by the House of Representatives to programs funded through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said today. WIA funds are substantially cut in the House of Representatives spending bill for the current fiscal year (FY11), which was approved along party lines by the House early Saturday morning. The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.
In Illinois, 113 Illinois workNet “one-stop” career centers will be forced to phase out services and eventually close their doors if the bill becomes law. The spending cuts would also force the McHenry County Workforce Center to lay off 20 people and stop providing services to more than 1,000 current customers.
“Workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own and are looking hard for new work need help. WIA funding helps those workers who are determined to find new jobs learn the skills they need to find employment in their geographic area, while at the same time matching them with potential employers in need of those skills. If this bill becomes law, the nearly 3,000 one-stop centers across the country that provide job training, career counseling, job listings and small business services will begin closing their doors. At a time when nearly 14 million Americans remain unemployed, and the unemployment rate in McHenry County is still above 8 percent, we cannot cut critical services that are helping get people back to work,” said Durbin.
The Workforce Investment Act is the primary source of federal funding for worker training and re-training. In addition, WIA incumbent worker dollars help businesses upgrade the skills of their current employees, allowing them to stay competitive and retain their workforce. The continuing resolution passed by the House eliminates all new funding for WIA’s Adult, Dislocated Workers and Youth grants program in Program Year 2011, which begins July 1, 2011. The bill also rescinds $175 million in unobligated Dislocated Worker Reserve and Emergency Grant funding.
There are 26 local workforce development boards and 113 one-stop centers in Illinois that rely on WIA funding to provide their services. For Program Year 2010, Illinois received more than $138 million through WIA. During Program Year 2009, WIA served more than 173,000 workers, a 25 percent increase from the previous year. Approximately 177,000 job seekers utilized the Illinois workNet online portal to access services. The program year runs July through June, while a fiscal year runs October through September, which is why WIA one-stop centers will continue to have funding through June if the bill passes.