Budget cuts hinder local workforce development boards

Posted at 10:54 AM, Jul 23, 2020

OSHKOSH (NBC 26) -- Local workforce development leaders said years of federal budget cuts is now hindering their ability to help people find work through the coronavirus pandemic.

“Over the last four years, we have seen double digit cuts to the funding we receive from the federal government every single year," Fox Valley Workforce Development Board CEO Anthony Snyder said.

Funding comes from the federal Workforce Innovation And Opportunity Act (WIOA). It's distributed to the 50 states, and in Wisconsin that money then goes to the Department of Workforce Development. From there, part of the funds go to 11 workforce development boards throughout the state.

In 2017, the Fox Valley Workforce Development Board received $1,622,178 from WIOA. After double digit percentage cuts every year, that number was $1,025,688 in fiscal year 2020. Snyder said it's not enough.

“We simply will not be able to help the tsunami of unemployed people that are about to splash into what’s remaining of our job centers," he said. “There’s going to have to be more staff laid off, and there won’t be dollars available to train people for the jobs that our region needs to fill.”

Snyder is hopeful that more funding will be on the way. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act expires at the end of this fiscal year. The Relaunching America’s Workforce Act reauthorizes WIOA and invests $15 billion in workforce training and career and technical education. Senator Tammy Baldwin is a lead sponsor. Her office wrote to us, "“It is so important that we boost our investment in workforce development now, so that we can provide our workers with the skills they need to quickly re-enter the workforce and help rebuild our economy.”

The Relaunching America’s Workforce Act was included in a second stimulus bill that passed the House of Representatives, but has not been taken up in the Senate.

“What happened was we got complacent," Snyder said.

Right now, Snyder said many of the services handled at the job center have gone virtual.

"If you visit our website we have a form where we are collecting names and contact information for people who are permanently unemployed so we can start talking to them," he said.

Snyder also asked that unemployed people who want help call their federal representatives and ask they fund local workforce development offices.