Budget bill would suspend job funds
Nevada would lose
$30 million in job training funds under a spending bill passed by the House of Representatives, a move that would reduce but not eliminate programs, officials said Wednesday.
Republicans say unused money still is available and that the suspension of Workforce Investment Act funds won’t hinder services. Democrats counter the cuts will hurt job seekers in a state that leads the nation in unemployment.
Workforce Investment Act money funds the operations and job training programs provided by Nevadaworks in Northern Nevada and Workforce Connections in the south.
“We can survive, yes,” said Tom Fitzgerald of Nevadaworks, but added, “a lot of ongoing programs that are having measurable results will have to be cut.”
He said the program has about $3 million on hand.
“We’ll still be here when July1, 2012, comes along and they give us new money,” Fitzgerald said.
He said lawmakers need to make hard choices.
“That’s just the way of life right now. We’re all in this together.”
Officials at the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation said they were still trying to assess the ramifications.
The suspension of funding was included in the appropriations bill passed by the House in February.
Nevada Republican Reps. Dean Heller and Joe Heck supported the measure.
“Future job growth is contingent upon the federal government getting its fiscal house in order,” Heller spokesman Stewart Bybee said in a statement when asked for comment. “Despite what some press releases might say, funds for work training programs are still available and those funds are not impacted by the continuing resolution.”
Bybee said Heller’s top priority is getting Nevadans back to work.
Heck was not immediately available for comment.
U.S. Sen. Harry Reid,
D-Nev., countered the bill undermines economic recovery.
“We need to cut wasteful spending and excess like tens of billions of dollars in government giveaways to oil companies already making record profits and corporations that ship American jobs overseas,” he said in a statement.
“However, we should not be pulling the rug out from under Nevada’s job seekers just when our economy is beginning to recover.”
Nevada’s unemployment rate reached a record 14.5 percent in December. A report on January jobless numbers was expected today.
A report by the National Association of Workforce Boards said in the last fiscal year, more than 8,800 people were served through the Nevada programs, a 295 percent increase from two years earlier.