President Bush has once again proposed deep cuts for critical federal labor and employment programs. While the President often speaks of his commitment to working Americans and their families, his budget proposals for the Department of Labor (DOL) tell a different story. Overall, the Bush Administration’s Fiscal Year 2008 budget proposes $10.6 billion in discretionary budget authority for DOL, which is a $1.1 billion (or 9.4 percent) decrease from the 2007 level of $11.7 billion. This budget cut would mean reductions in vital training and employment services, including those that help youth, older, low-income, and disabled Americans, anti-child labor programs, and income support programs.
The President’s budget would cut $1 billion, or 19 percent, from fiscal year 2007 levels for employment and job training programs. These cuts could not come at a worse time for American workers who are struggling to support their families in the face of outsourcing, competitiveness, wage stagnation, and the increasing cost of living. Nevertheless, the President is asking Congress to:
· Reduce funding for and consolidate several key programs into the new “Career Advancement Accounts” program. Seventy-five percent of training funding would go to this new voucher program, leaving only $850 million for basic employment services. The following programs would be consolidated:
· Adult employment and training activities grant program, which assists states and territories in developing and operating job training programs for adults, including low-income Americans and public assistance recipients. The proposal would cut this program by $152 million from the fiscal year 2007 level.
· Dislocated worker employment and training activities grant program, which provides reemployment services and retraining assistance to Americans who have been dislocated from their jobs. The proposal would cut this program by $357 million from the fiscal year 2007 level.
· Youth activities grant program, which provides academic, employment training, and youth development activities for low-income youth. The proposal would cut this program by $100 million from the fiscal year 2007 level.
· Employment Service State grants program, which helps unemployed workers find jobs and provides services to employers, including administering the Work Opportunity and Welfare-to-Work tax credits. The proposal would cut this program by$27 million from the fiscal year 2007 level. Given that the national unemployment rate rose to 4.6 percent in January, and one in every five of these workers remains unemployed for more than six months, these grants are vitally important.
· Cut $72 million, or 4.5 percent, below baseline from Job Corps, which is a system of primarily residential centers offering basic education, training, work experience, and other support, typically to economically disadvantaged youth.
· Eliminate funding for the Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker program, which helps workers acquire new skills to obtain better-paying jobs.
· Rescind $335 million in job training funds that have already been allocated to, and relied upon by, state and local governments.
· Cut $143 million, or 29 percent, below baseline from the Community Service Employment Program for Older Americans, which provides part-time community service work to unemployed, low-income Americans aged 55 and older. This cut could reduce employment opportunities for over 25,000 older Americans.
The Bush budget would drastically cut funding to programs that help people with disabilities by:
· Eliminating funding for the Work Incentive Grant program, which makes grants to help operate one-stop career centers to assist job seekers with disabilities. One-stop centers provide enhanced career development and labor market information services to workers and employers. Funding for one-stop centers has also been reduced.
· Slashing funding for the Office of Disability Employment Policy, which works to eliminate employment barriers to people with disabilities, by $10.3 million, or 35.6 percent, below baseline.
The President’s budget eliminates funding for the Susan B. Harwood Safety Training grants program, which provides for training and education programs on the recognition, avoidance, and prevention of safety and health hazards in the workplace. Under H.J.Res.20, the Funding Resolution for Fiscal Year 2007, the program is funded at $10.1 million.
The Bush budget would cut $58.4 million, or 80 percent, below the fiscal year 2007 level for anti-child labor programs, which combat abusive child labor practices worldwide. The President proposed to fund these programs at a mere $14 million.
The budget would reduce funding for the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which provides income support and job training for workers that lose their jobs because of trade. Funding decreases for this program are especially troubling given that the number of Americans receiving income benefits and training services for the first time has increased during the Bush Administration, 75 and 52 percent, respectively.
The President also proposes cuts to Department of Commerce programs that support workers and their employers. The budget would cut $61 million, or 57 percent, from the Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program, which administers a network of centers that provide business support and technical assistance to improve the productivity and competitiveness of small manufacturers.
NOTE: Unless otherwise noted, budget cuts are calculated relative to P.L. 110-5, theRevised Continuing Appropriations Resolution 2007, adjusted for inflation.