Today, the House passed H.R. 803, the SKILLS Act. The bill freezes WIA program funding for FY2014-2020, which has already been cut in half since 2001, and also consolidates or eliminates 35 programs, most of them WIA programs, into state block grants. That block granting would give states wide discretion to pick and choose eligible groups of participants according to the political and ideological predispositions of their Governors. The bill would also limit the role of organized labor in Workforce Investment Boards. Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. voted NO on the bill.
"Today, I voted NO on the misleadingly named SKILLS Act. As a former Council President of the Newark Municipal Council I can testify to the importance of local input with regards to jobs training programs from various community stakeholders. Unfortunately, this misguided Republican bill would eliminate the requirement to include community based organizations such as community colleges, faith-based organizations, labor, or other local stakeholders on state and local Workforce Investment Boards.
"I strongly opposed H.R. 803 because it places ideological positions over practical solutions. State and local Workforce Investment Boards should have fair and balanced representation from key local stakeholders. Instead of decisions being made on the basis of legitimate workforce needs, H.R. 803 locks out key local diverse stakeholders and leaves the system open to political favoritism."
Rep. Payne Jr. voted YES to the Democrat Amendment, introduced by Rep. George Miller (CA-11), which would have enhanced the economic security of working families by raising the minimum wage to $10.10 over the next three years, indexing future annual increases to the rate of inflation, and raising tipped employee wages to 70 percent of minimum wage.
"Our measure would have provided hard working employees the wage they deserve and would have preserved vital protections, training opportunities, and educational benefits for seniors, disabled veterans, women, young workers, and Americans with disabilities," said Rep. Payne, Jr. "To me, decisions should be based on need rather than partisan politics, and unfortunately, that is exactly the type of incentive the Republican SKILLS Act bestows. I am disappointed that the bill passed but will not be deterred in fighting to ensure that our workers are given the skills training they need to be employable and competitive in today's global economy."