Thursday, October 29, 2009

Should Federal ARRA (stimulus) Funds be Used for Job Training? Nancy Cassis Doesn't Think So.

Senator Ron Jelinek introduced SB 608, which was used to appropriate $38 million in federal stimulus dollars to a state-run jobs program. It passed the Senate 34-2 and is now in the House for consideration. One might ask, "If education is being shorted, and needs more funding, why not put the $38 million there? Or another might ask, "Why are we using one-time dollars this way? What will hapen next year?" Senator Nancy Cassis, one of the two NO votes had some very good questions as well. Here is a look into the debate from the Senate floor. These are her words from the Senate Journal:

Senator Cassis, under her constitutional right of protest (Art. 4, Sec. 18), protested against the passage of Senate Bill No. 608.
"On a very important issue, I would like to express my “no” vote on Senate Bill No. 608. As you know, Senate Bill No. 608 is a supplemental, and it allows for ARRA money to be used toward job training. In as much as it is only one-time money, that raises concerns on its own. I would like to add that it is very interesting that, just within the last few days, DELEG, who oversees the job training programs and workforce training programs in our state, conveniently released a report. On the surface, it looks very optimistic that 72 percent of all the job training activities between August 2007 and February 2009 that job placement has been at a record rate of 72 percent. Again, that is very optimistic, and we hope it is accurate. I would then really suggest and recommend that this report be backed up by an objective investigation with specific, supportive references in order to verify the claims that are being made.

Further, I would recommend that our Auditor General actually become involved and do an audit of the workforce training programs and No Worker Left Behind. Up until now, there has been no realistic evaluation measurement of these programs. Included in here, as you may remember, are dollars for film training in the film industry. As you know, we are seeing certain promises about jobs coming from those training programs actually fall through...we hope these job training programs really will result in jobs because all of those people who are expecting to have employment deserve to have that expectation realized.

I raise these issues, and again, I am going to ask that the Auditor General very shortly investigate this whole arena."

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