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.