The U.S. Department of Labor today outlined its part of the president's fiscal year 2013 budget request to Congress, which focuses on efficiently achieving the department's goals while exercising fiscal restraint.
"We are at a make or break moment for the middle class, and the Labor Department's fiscal year 2013 budget request reflects our commitment to supporting an American economy that's built to last," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "Our budget request focuses on programs that will help keep America's workforce strong and innovative, while providing needed worker protections. It also makes responsible and reasonable cuts that are rooted in current economic realities and a continued focus on increased efficiency and effectiveness."
The department's budget request totals $12.0 billion in discretionary funding. The budget invests in programs that help Americans find and keep jobs by providing training and employment opportunities for unemployed adults, dislocated workers, vulnerable communities and disadvantaged youth. The department will bolster its support for veterans through education, employment and other services that enable individuals newly separated from the military to successfully transition into civilian careers.
As the economy gains strength, job training programs need to be as efficient and effective as possible. In order to test new ideas and replicate proven cost-effective strategies to help individuals acquire in-demand skills, the FY 2013 budget provides $125 million for a Workforce Innovation Fund with $100 million from the Department of Labor and a $25 million contribution from the U.S. Department of Education. The Departments of Labor and Education jointly will oversee this fund, which will utilize competitive grants to support innovative, systemic and evidence-based reforms in the workforce system. The Departments of Labor and Education also will work together on a new $8 billion Community College to Career Fund to help America's community colleges provide pathways to high-skilled jobs in high-growth industries.
The Labor Department's FY 2013 budget request reflects many difficult choices and strategic consolidations. The budget discontinues the Women in Apprenticeship in Non-Traditional Occupations program and the Veterans Workforce Investment Program, but bolsters other veteran-focused activities, expands Registered Apprenticeships and improves service delivery innovation for all employment training programs through the Workforce Innovation Fund. The budget request also seeks to improve program outcomes and strengthen accountability for Job Corps through a thoughtful and transparent program assessment. To further enhance efficiency while still providing funding for department priorities, the budget request proposes the strategic consolidation of several regional offices.
The budget request reflects the department's continued commitment to enhancing worker health and safety. It includes $16.9 million to continue efforts to help reduce an unacceptably large case backlog at the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. The department is requesting an additional $5 million to bolster the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's enforcement of the numerous laws that protect workers and others from retaliation for reporting unsafe and unscrupulous practices.
The budget proposes to strengthen the defined benefit pension system for the millions of Americans who rely on it by giving the board of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. authority to adjust premiums and directing the PBGC to take into account the risks that different sponsors pose to their retirees and to the PBGC itself. This action will encourage companies to fully fund their pension benefits and ensure the continued financial soundness of the PBGC. It is estimated that this proposal will save $16 billion over the next decade.
In FY 2013, the department will continue to protect workers and level the playing field for businesses by providing the Wage and Hour Division with $10 million to combat worker misclassification and other violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act. When workers are misclassified as independent contractors, they are deprived of benefits and protections to which they are legally entitled, and law-abiding businesses are placed at a disadvantage against employers who violate the law.
Additionally, the department's FY 2013 budget request continues past efforts to enhance program effectiveness and improve efficiency. The department will invest a minimum of $9 million in program evaluations to be overseen by the chief evaluation officer and requests continued authority to set aside funds from major program accounts for an increased number of evaluations. These investments will provide the department with valuable information about strategies and approaches that work so that resources are invested strategically.
For more information on the president's FY 2013 budget request for the Department of Labor, visit http://www.dol.gov/budget/.