Workforce Development Council Holds Congressional Forum
By Shannon Holmes
October 21, 2002
The U.S. Conference of Mayors Workforce Development Council (WDC) 14th Annual Congressional Forum was held on Wednesday, October 9, 2002. At the forefront of the discussion was the reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). The overall consensus on TANF that there will be an extension. It is just a matter of whether the extension will be for one year or three years. As for WIA, hearings have begun and the hope is to have reauthorization done early next year.
WDC members attending the meeting from various cities from across the country included: Albany, Baltimore, Boston, Carson (CA), Chattanooga (TN), Chicago, Columbus (GA), Detroit, Fort Wayne (IN), Gary (IN), Hawthorne (CA), Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Long Beach (CA), Los Angeles, Lowell (MA), New Orleans, New York City, Norfolk (VA), Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Providence, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Vincennes (IN). Conny Doty, President of the WDC and Director of Jobs and Community Services in Boston, representing Conference President Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, chaired the meeting.
Workforce Investment Act
Annie White, Minority Labor Staff for Senator Judd Gregg (NH), and Ilyse Schuman, Minority Staff Labor Counsel for Senator Michael Enzi (WY), stated there is a need to have strong public/private relationships within the workforce system and, because the system is still so new, there should not be a total overhaul of the act, just minor revisions.
Stephanie Milburn, Majority Professional Staff, and Michele Varnhagen, Minority Labor Coordinator, of the House Committee on Education and Workforce agreed that there is a need to have better data collection and improved performance measures. They concluded that incumbent worker training and business engagement is vital to have an effective workforce system. There was consensus by the House and Senate staffs that WIA financial reporting needs to be fixed and that there should be more flexibility for states and localities, especially pertaining to funding.
Representatives from national public interest groups spoke on key issues pertaining to WIA and discussed ways that the groups could work together during reauthorization. The representatives included: Neil Bomberg, Associate Legislative Director of the National Association of Counties; Martin Jensen, Senior Policy Analyst for Employment and Social Services Policy Studies at the National Governors Association; Jennifer McGee, Senior Legislative Council at the National League of Cities, and David Shreve, Senior Committee Director for Education at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
Julie Kashen, Labor Policy Advisor for Senator Edward Kennedy (MA), Becky Shipp, Legislative Assistant for Senator Orrin Hatch (UT), and Sohini Gupta, Legislative Assistant for Senator Evan Bayh (IN), provided information on the status of TANF reauthorization in the Senate. The Senate Finance Committee has passed a bipartisan agreement and is still awaiting floor debate. They also discussed the possibility of having TANF continued for either one or three years. Mark Greenberg, Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Law and Social Policy; Sharon Parrot, Co-Director on Federal TANF Policy at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities; and Margy Waller, Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institute, discussed options that could happen with TANF reauthoIndividuals with Disabilities Education Act
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
Connie Garner, Disability Policy Advisor for Senator Kennedy (MA), and Michael Yudin, Legislative Assistant for Senator James Jeffords (VT), voiced concerns of the Senators about the challenges youth with disabilities face after high school in terms of limited opportunities. In order to address this concern, both Senators are considering providing funds and a new grant program into the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) reauthorization to ensure that the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation provides transitional services in schools for youth, starting at age 14. Both Senators are also concerned about just focusing this proposal on vocational rehabilitation. The staff has asked the Conference of Mayors Workforce Development CounciKeynote Address
The keynote address was given by William Sanders Jr., Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) at the Department of Labor. Mr. Sanders informed WDC members about the intended restructuring of ETA, and the desire of Assistant Secretary Emily DeRocco to make Community Colleges the provider of choice for training. According to Mr. Sanders this would allow flexibility at the local level with reorganization and integration. Furthermore, Mr. Sanders provided information on the new core performance measures that will be mandated across the Departments of Labor, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, and Veterans Affairs. It is hoped that this will ensure a moreHans Meeder, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Vocational and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education addressed WDC members at lunch about the importance of involving parents in the education of their children and having all Americans educated, no matter the age. His key message was that the more education received, the better the workforce.
Hans Meeder, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Vocational and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education addressed WDC members at lunch about the importance of involving parents in the education of their children and having all Americans educated, no matter the age. His key message was that the more education received, the better the workforce.
Other speakers that addressed the WDC included Beth Buehlmann, Executive Director of the Center for Workforce Success at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Buehlmann stressed the importance of business relationships within the workforce system. Diane Blank, Assistant Director of Education, Workforce and Income Security at U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO), gave a briefing on the recent GAO report Spending Under the Workforce Investment Act and the need for a more clarified and better reporting system of funding. Paul Harrington, Associate Director of the Center for Labor Market Study at Northeastern University, provided the latest statistics on youth employment and made recommendations for workforce policy for youth.
The Conference of Mayors Workforce Development Council provides a forum for mayors and their employment and training administrators to examine all workforce development issues and to strengthen the ability of cities to meet the needs of their citizens; particularly economically disadvantaged individuals, those with serious skill deficiencies, dislocated workers, and others with special barriers to employment, including youth.