March 9, 2018
Maine State Plan Comments
In February, Maine published its modified state plan for comment. It included a troubling overreach in the form of “mandates” to local boards, setting arbitrary training requirements. In our view, these areas are the purview of local workforce development boards and their partnering local elected officials. Our comments were in line with what has been NAWB’s position for years: we will always speak out when the ability of local workforce boards to best service their communities is being harmed. View NAWB's comments.
March 6, 2018
Joint Letter to Congress Regarding FY2019 Budget Language
NAWB, along with our partners from the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities, sent a letter to Congress objecting to language related to local area designation under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) in President Trump’s FY 2019 budget proposal. The language would take away local workforce boards' abilities to respond to labor market changes and give Governors control of WIOA funds in the state. We believe that local boards must be allowed to continue working with local employers to develop and implement regional strategies to meet the workforce needs of their communities. View the joint letter here.
Supporting Local Workforce Boards
Recently, the State of Maine decided to reject federal WIOA funding after its request to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to combine the state’s three workforce boards (WDBs) into a single state-level board was rejected by DOL. This decision generated quite a bit of news activity and was cause for concern among stakeholder and workforce organizations, including NAWB.
Without the WIOA funding they had already been allocated as part of the state plan for WIOA implementation, Maine’s WDBs and America’s Job Centers were facing a crippling reduction in operating budget and possible closure. In response, Maine’s WDBs filed legal action and began a series of negotiations with the state.
NAWB has monitored this situation since it first was reported earlier this summer. In support of the Maine WDBs, NAWB has met with Congressional Members on Capitol Hill to brief them on the status, to express our unqualified support for the position of the WDBs, and ask for the Member’s support. NAWB has also had discussions with DOL about possible courses of action.
“The local boards in Maine are dues-paying members of NAWB. We felt strongly that they should know they, or any NAWB member, have our support in this situation that effectively prevents the boards from carrying out the work they’ve been convened to perform,” said NAWB CEO Ron Painter.
Fortunately last week, the situation eased when the State of Maine agreed to extend contracts to the WDBs, allowing FY16 monies to be used as the state continues to work on contracting FY17. NAWB will continue to work with the WDBs and to advance solutions to avert future situations like the one they have faced this fall.
NAWB believes that local elected officials and community leaders have a right to articulate plans and initiate actions to ensure they have a skilled workforce to meet the needs of local/regional employers. This right, as well as the law’s intent for collaborative negotiations, is what we fought so hard for in the passage of WIOA. We believed then, and we believe as much today, that solutions to workforce issues are customized and delivered at the local/regional levels.
Local governments invest over $20B to advance economic development efforts, and NAWB contends that smart, locally driven WDBs are a key component to having those investments pay off. As it has for the WDBs in Maine, NAWB will continue to support local/regional decision-making and oppose regulation and actions that negate this choice.
We appreciate your support of NAWB through your payment of dues and support for the Policy Consultation and the Forum. As a 501(C)(3), NAWB appreciates donations to advance our work in support of state/local workforce development boards across the US and the Territories.