During Friday’s special session the General Assembly approved $30.3 million in federal Workforce Investment Act funds for adult employment training, summer youth employment, and dislocated worker programs.
And while advocates said they appreciated the legislature’s passage of those funds, at least one group was unhappy that lawmakers failed to approve a separate $30.4 million from the Workforce Investment Act that would help them operate their CTWorks One-Stop locations.
Thomas Phillips, president and CEO of Capital Workforce Partners, said the $30.3 million approved by the General Assembly on Friday can only used for specific purposes and cannot be used to staff the CTWorks One-Stop locations, where demand for services has increased more than 50 percent since the recession began.
Jeffrey Beckham, spokesman for the Office of Policy and Management, said funds for the CTWorks One-Stop offices traditionally are approved as part of the state budget.
Robert Fort, from the Workforce Alliance in New Haven, says that traditional funding holdup is the reason that many people are so upset at these workforce development centers.
“This is not a budget issue,” Fort said. “But the budget is holding up the money specifically earmarked as a federal pass-through. This is a crisis that is so much beyond the political debate that it’s unfortunate.”
Phillips said that without the additional $30.4 million, services at the CTWorks One-Stop Centers will diminish. He said they’re putting contingency plans into place in case the state does not approve a budget by July 1. Those plans include the closure of CTWorks One-Stop Centers in Bristol, Manchester, and East Hartford.
According to Phillips, the money approved Friday was a 50 percent match to the funding which the state should have already approved.
Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, D-Meriden, said it’s his understanding that some of the $30.3 million the General Assembly approved Friday can be used by Capital Workforce Partners to continue its efforts. He said they are the only group which received a pass through, and scoffed at the notion that they were upset that lawmakers couldn’t do more.
On Thursday, members of dozens of agencies from around the state rallied at the state Capitol in an effort to draw attention to the issue.
“These federal WIA funds are intended to be released quickly to provide important support and workforce development-related services to the state’s residents impacted by the current economic recession,” Phillips said.
In addition, Gov. M. Jodi Rell proposed cutting $18.5 million from the state’s Jobs First program that helps 16,000 adults on state assistance receive training so that they can enter the workforce.
Fort said getting these people to work helps them get off state assistance. Eliminating the funding just means they’ll need more state assistance in the future. He said the Jobs First program offers a holistic approach to workforce development.
Without the program there will be fewer jobs in the state because some of the funding helps subsidize positions with major employers and those jobs will disappear without this funding, he added.