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ICYMI: Helping Workers and Protecting Taxpayers

 By Reps. John Kline and Joe Heck

Nevada citizens know far too well the difficult challenges facing families and workers. According to a recent report by the U.S. Department of Labor, unemployment in the Silver State stands at 12.9%, and for 30 straight months, state unemployment has been far greater than 10%. Our country is in the midst of a jobs crisis; it is time for policymakers – at every level of public service – to advance a pro-growth agenda that will help put Americans back to work.

Washington tried to spend its way to a strong economy and the results are devastating: A failed stimulus bill pushed our national debt to new heights and unemployment across the country above 9%. Instead of repeating mistakes, the federal government should help foster an environment in which entrepreneurs and small business owners have the confidence they need to create jobs for workers. Spending taxpayer money wisely and ensuring government programs run efficiently and effectively are important pieces of the pro-growth strategy our nation desperately needs.

As part of that effort, on Tuesday, August 30, we will meet at The Opportunity Village’s Ralph and Betty Englestad Campus to discuss responsible reforms to our nation’s job-training programs. Our meeting, which will begin at 11 a.m. local time and serve as an official hearing by the House Education and the Workforce Committee, will examine local ideas for improving federal job training services.

For decades, the federal government has administered a myriad of initiatives intended to help workers gain the skills and training necessary to succeed in the workplace. In 1998, President Clinton signed into law the Workforce Investment Act, which consolidated many of the nation’s employment and training services to provide workers a network of one-stop centers that offer the employment services they need in a more efficient and effective way. It was a good first step toward enhancing support for workers and promoting better use of taxpayer dollars.

However, as a recent report by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office makes clear, more reform is needed to strengthen these services. According to the April study, the federal government still maintains 47 separate employment and training programs. Forty-four of these programs overlap with at least one other program. These programs represent a taxpayer investment of $18 billion, yet only five programs have been evaluated to determine whether or not they are actually helping workers.

Our staggering unemployment rate coupled with the Government Accountability Office’s report underscores the need to update the Workforce Investment Act. Fortunately, many states across the country are already working to improve the quality of workforce services.

Here in Nevada, leaders in workforce investment services are teaming up with area businesses to ensure workers are learning skills that meet local employers’ needs. The state is also working with 3,000 local businesses to provide job shadowing and internships for Nevada’s youth, giving these students a valuable head start in their future careers.

As we work to build a stronger, more competitive and diverse workforce, ensuring access to effective job-training opportunities and employment services is critical. Nevada’s reforms provide state and federal policymakers with a model that improves employment services while protecting taxpayer money. Putting our nation back on the path to prosperity remains a difficult challenge, but pursuing positive reforms that support workers while wisely stewarding taxpayer dollars will help move our country in the right direction.

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