• Overview

    Since 2007, the Ohio Workforce Coalition has been bringing together leaders from education and training institutions, economic and workforce development organizations, business and industry, labor, and human service providers. The Coalition promotes public policies that build the skills of adult workers, meet employer skill needs, and strengthen the workforce system to ensure opportunity and prosperity for Ohio families.

WOW Weekly Policy Update – 9.10.10

Weekly Policy Update – September 10, 2010

Document Table of Contents

1. In the Administration

a. US Department of Education

b. US Department of Housing and Urban Development

c. US Department of Labor 

d. US Department of Treasury

e. White House

2. On the Hill

3. Sign-on Letters

a. Older Americans Act

4. In the States

a. Alabama

b. Georgia

c. Illinois

d. Kansas

e. Michigan

f. Nevada

g. New York

h. Wisconsin

5. State Partners Press

a. Connecticut Permanent Commission on the Status of Women

b. Georgia Budget and Policy Institute

c. Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights

6. Reports and Research

a. Walking Away from a Win-Win-Win

b. Same Work, Less Pay: Virginia’s Persistent Gender Gap

c. Uninsured Children: Who They Are and Where Do They Live?

d. American Workers Assess an Economic Disaster

e. Widening the Doorways of Opportunity: Philanthropic Efforts to Strengthen Postsecondary Education and Skill Development Systems

7. In the News

a. HUD investigates mortgage squeeze on pregnancy

b. Why young women out earn young men

c. Public schools face lawsuit over fees

d. Plus 50 Initiative

8. Blogs and Opinions

a. Working women helped most by unions

b. Social Security is firewall between dignity and financial desperation

c. Assets can build the bridge from safety net to self-sufficiency

d. Women lag behind men in retirement income

9. Events

a. Brookings Institute

b. New America Foundation and Institute for Women’s Policy Research

In the Administration

US DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

8 states and two territories receive federal support for education jobs(DOE Press Release, 9/7-9/10/10) U.S. Secretary of Education Duncan announced this week that 8 state and 2 territories will receive between $8 million (for Northern Mariana Islands) and $554.8 million (for Florida) to support education jobs.

US DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT

HUD awards additional $1 billion to stabilize neighborhoods hard-hit by foreclosure(HUD press release, 9/8/10)U.S. HUD Secretary Donovan awarded an additional $1 billion in funding to all states along with a number of counties and local communities struggling to reverse the effects of the foreclosure crisis. The grants announced today represent a third round of funding through HUD’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) and will provide targeted emergency assistance to state and local governments to acquire, redevelop or demolish foreclosed properties.

US DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

US DOL launches Web portal to help job seekers (DOL press release, 9/7/10) The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration has launched a Web portal to help job seekers match their current skills to new careers and find out what training is needed to transition from one job to another. This new online tool is called “mySkillsmyFuture” and can be accessed at mySkillsmyFuture.org.

US DOL grants states more than $8 million for improvements to unemployment insurance systems (DOL press release, 9/8/10) The U.S. Department of Labor today announced more than $8 million in grants to 22 states to make automation and technology upgrades within unemployment insurance systems. Increased workloads have put a strain on many state unemployment insurance systems,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “We must work to ensure that technology is up to par to guarantee quality service for all unemployment claimants regardless of volume or demands on state programs.”

US DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY

Treasury Department announces new pilot to help deliver safe, low-cost financial accounts to the unbanked and underbanked during tax season (Treasury press release, 9/2/10) “Far too often, unbanked and underbanked Americans are forced to turn to high-cost alternative financial products – such as check-cashing and other services – that take a big bite out of the savings of those who can least afford it,” said Michael S. Barr, Assistant Treasury Secretary for Financial Institutions. “For many individuals, a tax refund is the single largest payment that they will receive each year. That’s why tax season is a great opportunity to deliver safe, low-cost financial products to the unbanked and underbanked that will help those Americans build stronger foundations for their financial futures.”

WHITE HOUSE

Pres. Obama on Economy in Cleveland: The America I Believe In(White House blog, 9/8/10) On Wednesday, President Obama traveled to Cleveland, Ohio and laid out his administration’s proposals to help the economy continue on a path to recovery. He spoke about the need to invest in America’s roads, bridges and runways, help small businesses grow and hire, and give certainty to businesses through a permanent incentive to innovate and create good jobs in America in the Research and Experimentation Tax Credit.

On Monday, President Obama called for a $50 billion investment in infrastructure and unveiled a set of principles for a surface transportation reauthorization, which includes a new emphasis on high-speed rail projects and a recommendation to replace earmarks with performance-based funding. The President and senior administration officials stressed that while the proposal — which would need congressional authorization — is expected to create many jobs with an infusion of new dollars, it is more about overhauling the way infrastructure is funded. The $50 billion the administration is calling for is intended to be a “front-loaded” amount to be spent in the first year of the new transportation bill. The White House is proposing that the $50 billion be paid for by prohibiting oil and gas companies from taking advantage of manufacturer tax deduction and accelerated depreciation tax benefits. The administration is proposing that the $50 billion be spent on:

1) Highway improvements;

2) Rail, including building on stimulus-related high-speed rail investments, and a “significant” investment in transit New Starts;

3) Aviation, including airport investments and the transition to a new satellite-based air traffic control system; and

4) An infrastructure bank that would fund large-scale projects, including those that span entire regions.

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On the Hill

The House and Senate return to Washington next Tuesday to begin what will be either a three or four week work period. Both chambers were scheduled to adjourn October 8th but in recent days, top aides have suggested they may leave at the end of the month to allow Members more time to campaign. Senior House aides have said they do not see any reason to keep Members in town if the Senate cannot get much accomplished beyond a small-business bill and a continuing resolution (CR) keeping the government operating past the Oct. 1 start of the new fiscal year. That CR must be passed by the end of September, and once it’s done, some aides have said that there is nothing that cannot wait until a post-election, lame-duck session. The Senate has identified three issues it must tackle during the next work period: tax cuts, the small-business bill and the CR.

The House’s top architect of transportation policy said Wednesday not to expect action on any of President Obama’s infrastructure priorities announced earlier this week at least until after the election. Speaking at a news conference for a bridge project in Portland, Ore., Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James L. Oberstar (D, MN) said he thinks it is unlikely that the president’s infrastructure proposal will be acted on before Election Day. Instead, Oberstar said he will incorporate Obama’s surface transportation priorities, unveiled Monday, into his pending surface transportation reauthorization bill. Oberstar said he will begin that work after the election.

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Sign-on Letters

WOW has added its support to the following initiatives, principles, and/or bills:

WOW signed a letter of thanks and support, sponsored by the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor/HHS/Education for the signfiicant and needed increase in funding the Subcommitte dedicated in its appropriations bills to programs and services related to the Older Americans Act. LCAO, WOW, and other supporting organizations will advocate Congress to pass the appropriations bill for all the potential benficiaries of this funding increase .

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In the States

ALABAMA: Stimulus job funding expires at month’s end for 2,300 Alabamians (The Birmingham News, 9/3/10) More than 2,300 needy Alabamians working for salaries provided by federal stimulus funds probably will lose their jobs at the end of the month, if Congress does not extend one of the lesser-known provisions of the economic recovery law.

GEORGIA: Disabled Georgians sue over program cuts (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 9/10/10) Six Georgians suffering from serious mental or developmental disabilities, with illnesses ranging from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, mental retardation and traumatic brain injury, sued the state Thursday over the loss of benefits that have allowed them to live in personal care homes or with family instead of institutions.

ILLINOIS: Jobs program in jeopardy (Chicago Tribune, 9/6/10) 25,000 people are at risk of losing jobs they gained through Put Illinois to Work, a subsidized jobs program that helped unemployed workers gain employment new skills, made possible by $200 million from TANF Emergency Contingency Fund, apart the federal stimulus package. 60,000 people applied for the program.

KANSAS: Budget cuts eliminated dental care for elderly, disabled Kansans (Lawrence Journal-World, 9/8/10) Cuts in dental benefits for elderly, poor and disabled Kansans have been devastating, according to social services advocates. The lack of access to dental care is compounded by the fact that only 25 percent of dentists in Kansas accept Medicaid patients, compared with 80 percent of Kansas doctors.

MICHIGAN: Michigan welfare numbers resume creep upward (Michigan Public Radio, 9/8/10) Welfare caseloads in Michigan resume their climb this summer after leveling off early in the year. Michigan has a record number of nearly 1.9 million people receiving some form of public assistance.

NEVADA: Nevada goes bust (The Nation, 9/20/10) Four years ago, at the height of the real estate boom, when people from around the country flocked to Las Vegas to gamble and to gambol, the state government could count on about $6.8 billion in revenues for its biennial general fund. Like most other states, it went on a spending spree—hiring more teachers, expanding an array of social service programs and so on. Since then, the state’s revenues have imploded, while those spending obligations remain in place.

NEVADA: Nevada is most economically stressed in US (Reno Gazette Journal, 9/7/10)Nevada leads the nation as the most stressed state in the country while Lyon County ranks third among all U.S. counties of 25,000 or more, according to the Associated Press Economic Stress Index.

NEW YORK: Domestic Workers Bill of Right in NY (AP, 8/31/10) The New York law requires overtime pay for an estimated 200.000 nannies, housekeepers and companions to the elderly, guarantees them weekly time off and subjects employers to state law for minimum-wage violations and sexual harassment.

WISCONSIN: One in four Wisconsin seniors now living on Social Security (WisPolitics, 9/7/10) The Wisconsin Women’s Network, in collaboration with Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW), released the updated 2010 Wisconsin Elder Economic Security Standard™ Index. The Elder Index, which measures what it costs for seniors to age in place in each of the state’s 72 counties, shows that an elder now requires between $18,659 and $26,439 a year to make ends meet.

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State Partners Press

Connecticut Permanent Commission on the Status of Women

Campaign launched to promote women (WSHU Radio, 9/8/10) The Connecticut Permanent Commission on the Status of Women has launched a campaign to get more women appointed to high level government jobs.

Georgia Budget and Policy Institute

Revenue growth doesn’t match budget predictions…yet (Georgia Public Radio, 9/9/10) Georgia’s revenue numbers have been on the rise for the past three months, but it amounts to only 1.3 percent in actual growth according to the state revenue department. Sarah Beth Gehl with the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute says, “The governor’s revenue estimate is 4.2 percent for the fiscal year. So we’re going to have to pick up a little bit in the remainder of the fiscal year to meet the revenue estimate, but I do think his revenue estimate is reasonable.”

Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights

Local college students focus on solutions as hunger, poverty grow (Daily Herald, 9/9/10) Amy Terpstra, associate director of Heartland Alliance’s Social IMPACT Research Center, says Chicago’s suburbs have seen an increase in low-paying service jobs and a decrease in good-paying, family-supporting jobs. “Forty-four percent of the region’s poor live in the suburbs,” Terpstra said, tripling in some areas since the 1980s. “And there are really unique challenges with being poor in the suburbs. Transportation and services are more challenging to find.”

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Reports and Research

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities released, “Walking Away from a Win-Win-Win: Subsidized Jobs Slated to End Soon Are Helping Families, Businesses, and Communities Weather the Recession,” an extended argument for continuing an emergency jobs program funded by the TANF Emergency Fund, through which 37 states have provided subsidized jobs for nearly 250,000 otherwise unemployed parents and youth. The funding and programs are scheduled to end September 30 unless the Senate joins the House in voting to extend them.

The Commonwealth Institute recently published “Same Work, Less Pay: Virginia’s Persistent Gender Gap,” which examines the gender pay gap in the state, the South Atlantic Region, and the country. The report compared men’s and women’s median hourly wage and found that Virginia has a persistently larger gender pay gap than the region and country as a whole. The gap widens as incomes and education levels increase.

The Robert Woods Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute released “Uninsured Children: Who They Are and Where Do They Live?” last week. According to the report, the number of uninsured children has declined since the late 1990s, reaching the lowest level reported in more than 20 years in 2008. Notwithstanding that progress, an estimated 7.3 million children lack health insurance coverage, most of whom are eligible for public health insurance under either Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Rutgers University released, “American Workers Assess an Economic Disaster,” which documents the state of the average American worker and her/his experience with and impression of the current recession. “Even at a time when corporate profits are increasing, there is little gain being shared with the workforce,” Rutgers Professor Douglas Kruse said. “Workers clearly are being asked to share more of the cost of the benefits.” The Rutgers study also highlighted continued pay gaps by gender and race. Women earn 83 percent of men’s wages, blacks make 80.3 percent as much as whites, and Hispanics’ wages declined sharply to only 70 percent as much as whites, according to the study.

The Working Poor Families Project’s report “Widening the Doorways of Opportunity: Philanthropic Efforts to Strengthen Postsecondary Education and Skill Development Systems” outlines the need for significant change in postsecondary education – one of the principal pathways towards and indicators of a family’s economy security. The report also discusses the role of philanthropies in this effort, profiles seven state initiatives, and recommends five ways in which states can affect greater reform.

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In the News

HUD investigates mortgage squeeze on pregnancy (Women’s Enews, 9/7/10) “Though I was preapproved for my loan, though I was employed and though my leave was federally protected, I was told that in the eyes of my lender, I was unemployed, and thus didn’t meet the financial qualifications for my loan,” said a pregnant women in Oakland – one of many such complaints which have led to an advocacy campaign and this HUD investigation.

Why young women out earn young men (Slate, 9/7/10) There are two ways to look at the gender pay gap. The first way is to ask whether equally skilled men and women in comparable jobs are paid the same. That’s the way to gauge workplace fairness. Do women with similar credentials in similar jobs earn as much as the men they work with? It’s in this context that the answer remains no.

Public Schools Face Lawsuit Over Fees(NY Times, 9/10/10)Public schools across the nation, many facing budget shortfalls, have been charging students fees to use textbooks or to take required tests or courses. Now the ACLU is suing California over those proliferating fees, arguing that the state has failed to protect the right to a free public education.

The American Association of Community Colleges’ Plus 50 Initiative is a three-year effort to identify a pilot group of two-year institutions that will create or expand campus programs to engage the 50+ population in learning; training/re-training programs; and/or volunteer, civic, service activities.

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Blogs and Opinions

Working women helped most by unions (Billing Gazette, 9/6/10) The Executive Director of the Montana State AFL-CIO writes, “In 2007, women made up 45 percent of union members and that number continues to grow. Every day Montana’s working women are joining together into unions to affect change and taking leadership positions in those unions as well. The Montana State AFL-CIO, and our 38,000 union members, is dedicated to the protection and promotion of working women.”

Social Security is firewall between aging with dignity, aging in financial desperation(Kansas City Star, 9/7/10) Dave Wilson, state president of AARP Kansas, writes “Social Security’s guaranteed benefits are a rock-solid commitment to American families in good times and bad — and we must make sure it stays that way.”

Assets can build the bridge from the safety net to self sufficiency (OKPolicyBlog, 9/8/10) Families need more than public benefits and income supports to get ahead. The second implication of the Self-Sufficiency Standard is the need for strategies focused on helping families achieve economic security. The Oklahoma Asset Building Coalition has chosen to focus on building and preserving assets as a key cornerstone and pathway.

Women lag behind men in retirement income (The Morning Call, 9/9/10) Pennsylvania’s State Treasurer, Rob McCord, writes in an op-ed, “Women suffer from clear disadvantages when it comes to saving for retirement. They earn, on average, only 79 cents for every dollar earned by a man for the same job, a $300,000 loss in income over the course of their careers — and less to invest for retirement. There are 62 million women in the U.S. workforce today age 21-64, but only 45 percent of them have access to, or participate in, a retirement plan”

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Events

Brookings will host hold its eighth annual briefing to discuss the new Census figures on poverty and their implications for families and policymakers. A panel of experts will offer their analysis on the Census report and perspectives on the significance of the new data. The event is titled, “Poverty and Income in 2009: A Look at the New Census Data and What the Numbers Mean” and will be held next Thursday, September 16th, from 2:30 to 4:00 pm at the Reserve Officers Association of the United States, One Constitution Avenue, NE, Washington, DC .

New America Foundation and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research are hosting, “Designing Work-Family Policies for Families, Employers and Gender Equity: Lessons From the US and Around the Globe” next Thursday at the New America Foundation (1899 L St, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036) from 12 to 1:30. Four experts will discuss how women’s increased participation in the workforce over the last 30 years has changed the social and economic landscape and examine the evidence from the US and across the world on work-family policies that support families, help employers succeed, and increase gender equity.

WOW Weekly Policy Update – 9.10.10.pdf

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