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Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. YOUNG of Alaska. Madam Chair, I rise today to offer an amendment to H.R. 803, which would ensure vital funding for workforce training programs utilized by Alaska Natives, Native Americans, and Native Hawaiians.

H.R. 803, as reported, contains a provision which establishes a 1 percent cap on the amount that each State can designate for Native employment and training grants out of their total funding allotment.

My amendment would instead require that each State provide exactly 1 percent for each program. This change is important because H.R. 803, as it currently stands, gives States the discretion to drastically reduce or virtually eliminate Native work-training funds.

Alaska Native, American Indian, and Native Hawaiian populations often rank at the bottom of labor-related categories like income, education, and unemployment rate. Since 1998, America's Native peoples have relied crucially on funding from the Workforce Investment Act to provide the necessary resources to educate their workforce to help reverse these trends. My amendment would guarantee that tribal funding continues.

I urge a ``yes'' vote on the amendment and reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. YOUNG of Alaska. Madam Chair, again I urge a ``yes'' vote. This amendment does solve some problems.

And I'd like to address the issue of training. We've been very fortunate in Alaska. We've used these dollars in training for our Alaskan Natives very successfully. We have aircraft training programs. We have carpenter training programs. We're training a group of Alaskan Natives to do the jobs that they can do not only in their tribal areas, but in the State itself. It makes for a sound economy.

On the reservation Mr. Cole mentioned, we still have that high rate. I hope we understand that I'm going to seek a new empowerment act for the American Indians to make sure that they don't have that high rate through training, availability, utilization of their land for the benefit of themselves so, in fact, we can continue to raise their standard instead of keeping 80 percent unemployment.

Again I urge a ``yes'' vote, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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