Barletta: Student level will not be slashed at Job Corps center
A proposed cut in the federal Job Corps program was rescinded, according to U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta.
The U.S. Department of Labor notified Barletta, R-11, Hazleton, that it would reverse the cuts within hours of receiving a letter that was co-signed by more than 100 members of Congress from both parties.
Barletta, the Republican co-chair of the Job Corps Caucus, said the number of students in the Job Corps program was to be reduced by 12 percent.
In the letter, the lawmakers pointed out that an additional $5.5 million was added to a $1.58 billion appropriation for Job Corps to pay for 38,194 student training slots.
Egan Reich, a spokesman for the Department of Labor for the Job Corps program, confirmed the reduction was rescinded.
The letter expressed concer ns over a recently announced plan to reduce Job Corps student capacity to 33,532 total students in 2017. This amounted to a reduction of 4,662 training slots, despite the prog ram receiving that 1 percent funding increase in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017.
“We are alar med that after infor ming Congress that no cuts would be necessary, the agency is now planning to significantly reduce services to our constituents,” the
letter states. “Given the similarity to the 2012 enrollment freeze and capacity reductions that resulted from the agency’ s financial mis management of Job Corps’ budget, we are grave ly concerned.”
A $60 million shortfall in the De par tment of Labor budget caused a freeze on admitting new students to the Keystone Job Corps Center in Drums from January to May 2013 and resulted in a permanent reduction from 600 to 471 students.
“Our expectations based on the agency’s budget documents is that the resources this Congress provided should be sufficient to maintain the slot capacity of 38,194 that the agency projected,” the letter continues.
The lawmakers ask the Department of Labor to reexamine the justification for the reduction in Job Corps capacity and to provide any information that supports the decision to their offices.
In a news release, Barletta said Job Corps is one of the most important programs that encourage young adults to succeed and to lear n the value of civic duty.
“I am very pleased the DOL now understands the importance of this program,” he said.
Job Corps’ partnerships with local organizations and businesses have helped to foster a safe and secure environment while benefitting both students and the com- munity, Barletta said.
“When I was a mayor (of Hazleton), I met the students from the Keystone Job Corps Center and witnessed the work they did for our community ,” he said in the release .“They helped to build the sidewalks around City Hall and designed the trash receptacles during the downtown beautification project. I’ve also had numerous Job Corps students inter n in my Hazleton district office. Job Corps allows young adults to get involved in our community, which benefits everyone. For 50 years the program has em powered the youth of America.”
The Job Corps program was enacted as part of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 and most recently reauthorized in 2014 as part of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. That bill contained provisions similar to Barletta’s H.R. 497, America Works Act, to encourage states and localities to prioritize federal spending on education and training.
Job Corps is designed to provide young people with the skills necessary to obtain and hold jobs, enter the ar med forces, or enroll in continuing education. The 124,000 Job Corps centers across the country serve more than 60,000 par tici - pants, who must be ages 16 to 24, low income, and facing barriers to employment and education.
Keystone Job Corps Center’s then-newly elected student government president, Richette Walton, spoke with U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta in his Washington, D.C., office in March 2016. Barletta, now Republican co-chair of the Job Corps Caucus, said Monday a proposed funding cut had been rescinded and Job Corps levels would remain intact.