Training, enforcement key parts of DOL’s proposed budget

The Obama administration’s proposed U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) budget for fiscal year 2015 stresses a continuation of enforcement initiatives from previous years as well as new job training and assistance initiatives.

Released on March 4, the budget proposal includes $11.8 billion in discretionary funding for the DOL, $300,000 less than the request in the 2014 proposed budget. The 2015 proposal also includes new dedicated mandatory funds. A DOL statement says the proposed budget adheres to the spending levels agreed to in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 and includes the fully paid-for Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative.

President Barack Obama’s entire federal budget request is drawing both cheers and jeers from business and labor organizations.

“The president’s budget delivers damaging tax increases for manufacturers in every industry sector, from small manufacturers to global companies,” Aric Newhouse, senior vice president of policy and government relations for the National Association of Manufacturers, said after the budget was released.

Newhouse went on to praise some provisions he said will benefit manufacturers. “A permanent [research and development] credit, along with the manufacturing hubs being opened across the United States, would strongly benefit long-term innovation,” he said. He added that manufacturers appreciate the president’s commitment to transportation and infrastructure funding as well as the emphasis on workforce development.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka largely praised the proposed budget. “Our nation needs Washington to engage in a broader conversation about full employment and raising wages,” he said. “And President Obama’s proposals to invest in jobs, raise the minimum wage, expand the [earned income tax credit], close tax loopholes for the wealthy, and provide access to universal prekindergarten are good starting points to seriously address inequality.”

Here’s a look at some pieces of the DOL’s proposed 2015 budget:

  • The budget proposes to create the New Careers Pathways Program, which is designed to provide job assistance to one million Americans by offering services to displaced workers.
  • The budget requests funding for the Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative to create new partnerships between employers and community colleges so new training programs and apprenticeships can be implemented to prepare participants for in-demand jobs.
  • Funding for the Workforce Innovation Fund is included to give states the flexibility to test new workforce development strategies.
  • To reach the long-term unemployed, the budget proposes mandatory funding for a “job-driven training for youth and the long-term unemployed” initiative made up of programs that will allow individuals to continue receiving unemployment benefits while participating in short-term work placements.
  • The proposed budget includes funds aimed at speeding up unemployment beneficiaries’ return to work. The funds will serve workers who are most likely to exhaust unemployment benefits as well as returning military servicemembers.

The budget also includes funds for enforcement of health, safety, wages, working conditions, and retirement security laws. The proposal includes:

  • Nearly $14 million to combat misclassification of workers as independent contractors, which is about the same amount that was proposed in last year’s budget request;
  • $5 million for the creation of a state paid leave fund to assist workers who need time off to care for a child or another family member, the same as last year;
  • $100 million as part of the Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative;
  • $377 million for the Mine Safety and Health Administration;
  • $1.1 million to strengthen efforts to eliminate pay discrimination between women and men.