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OPA News Release: [02/14/2011]
Contact Name: Elizabeth Alexander
Phone Number: (202) 693-4675
Release Number: 11-0207-NAT
US Department of Labor releases fiscal year 2012 budget request
Budget reflects fiscal responsibility while investing in job training and worker protection
WASHINGTON The U.S. Department of Labor today outlined its part of the president's fiscal year 2012 budget request to Congress. The department's budget request focuses on efficiently achieving the department's goals while exercising fiscal restraint.
"Our budget request reflects our commitment to help America 'win the future' by sustaining a competitive workforce and ensuring worker protections," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "Our fiscal year 2012 request reflects what it will take to keep America's workforce strong and innovative. 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 $12.8 billion in discretionary funding. The budget aims to help Americans find and keep jobs through programs that provide training and employment opportunities for unemployed adults, dislocated workers and vulnerable communities. The budget also preserves support for employment and training programs that target Native American communities and migrant and seasonal farmworkers, as well as YouthBuild and Job Corps, which serve disadvantaged youth. The department will continue to support veterans by investing an additional $2 million in the Transition Assistance Program and an additional $3 million in the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program.
In this time of tough economic conditions, job training programs need to be as efficient and effective as possible. In order to test new ideas and replicate proven strategies to deliver comprehensive and cost-effective services that help individuals acquire skills and succeed in employment, the 2012 budget will reinvest funding previously allocated to the states in order to establish a Workforce Innovation Fund. The budget proposes almost $380 million for the fund in the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education, which will jointly oversee competitive grants to support innovative, systemic and evidence-based reforms in the workforce system.
The 2012 budget reflects many difficult choices. It reduces the Community Service Employment for Older Americans program and transfers the program to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where it can be better coordinated with other safety-net programs for seniors. In addition, the budget eliminates the $125 million Career Pathways Innovation Fund, which duplicates the recently enacted Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Program, and reduces funding for Job Corps construction to cover higher operations costs.
The department will continue its commitment to enhancing worker safety. For example, to improve mine safety in 2012, the department is requesting $33 million to help reduce the large case backlog at the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. The current backlog creates an unacceptable delay in holding bad-actor operators accountable for threatening the health and safety of America's miners.
The budget proposes to strengthen the defined benefit pension system for the millions of Americans who rely on it by giving the board of directors of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. the authority to adjust the premiums it charges pension plan sponsors. Increases will be phased in gradually, starting in 2014, and PBGC will be directed to take into account the risks that different sponsors pose to their retirees and to the pension insurance program.
In 2012, the department will continue to protect workers and level the playing field for businesses by investing almost $50 million to combat worker misclassification involving the Wage and Hour Division, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Office of the Solicitor, and the Employment and Training Administration. 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 2012 budget request promotes a continuation of efforts to ensure program effectiveness, improve efficiency and increase transparency. The department will invest $30 million in program evaluations to be overseen by the chief evaluation officer. The budget includes a request for an Office of Information Services that will centralize and speed up responses to Freedom of Information Act requests.
For more information on the president's 2012 budget request for the Department of Labor, visit http://www.dol.gov/budget.
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