|October 5, 2008|
OPA News Release: [02/04/2008]
U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao outlines budget for fiscal year 2009
Emphasis is on worker protection and workforce competitiveness
WASHINGTON Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao today outlined the president's fiscal year (FY) 2009 budget for the U.S. Department of Labor, which provides added resources for protecting workers' health, safety, pay, benefits and union member rights. The budget also proposes job training reforms to make federal-state training programs more flexible and effective, and calls for passage of several legislative reforms related to the department's agencies and programs.
"The mission of the Labor Department is to create hope and opportunity, and the president's budget provides the resources to accomplish this by increasing the competitiveness of the American workforce, and promoting and protecting the health, safety, wages and retirement security of America's workforce," said Secretary Chao. "This budget also allows the department to build on the record-setting results that it has helped achieve for America's workers over the past seven years."
The FY 2009 budget focuses on the following departmental priorities:
Details of the department's FY 2009 budget include the following:
The FY 2009 budget requests $1.5 billion for the department's worker protection programs. To build on the Wage and Hour Division's record-setting success in collecting back wages, the budget provides $193.1 million, a $17.4 million (10 percent) increase that includes funding for 75 new investigators and field support staff. The budget also proposes legislation designed to further strengthen worker rights and protect families by increasing the amount of civil monetary penalties that can be assessed against employers who willfully violate child labor laws.
The FY 2009 request increases Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) funding by $15.7 million (3 percent), for a total of $501.7 million. Utilizing vigorous enforcement and compliance assistance, OSHA will focus on high-hazard industries, including those that employ large numbers of vulnerable non-English speaking workers.
Under the FY 2009 budget, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) would be funded at $332.1 million, including $7.4 million to support 55 additional metal/nonmetal enforcement personnel, allowing further strengthening of mine safety and health protections.
The president's FY 2009 request includes an additional $8.6 million (6 percent) for the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), bringing EBSA's budget to $147.9 million, allowing EBSA to increase the quality, timeliness and transparency of pension information disclosed to the public and employees, as well as to maintain the strong enforcement record of recent years.
An additional $13.3 million (30 percent) will boost funding for the Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) to $58.3 million, and strengthen union financial integrity protections and compliance with the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act.
Job Training Innovations
The FY 2009 budget again calls for major reforms to the public workforce investment system. It proposes $2.8 billion for the administration's Career Advancement Accounts, self-directed accounts that place more training dollars in the hands of workers to gain the skills needed to secure the best career opportunities. The proposal would target more resources to education and skills training, and provide states and local communities with greater flexibility to reduce competing bureaucracies and design workforce systems that best meet the needs of American workers and their regional economies. These reforms, along with the request for $125 million for the President's Community-Based Job Training Grants Initiative, continue to build on efforts to offer flexible, effective training options to educate and prepare workers for the competitive global economy of the 21st century.
The FY 2009 budget includes $39.6 million for the department's portion of the Reintegration of Ex-Offenders Program, which is administered jointly with the U.S. Departments of Justice and Housing and Urban Development.
The FY 2009 budget increases funding for the Veterans Employment and Training Service by $10.3 million, expands the successful Transition Assistance Program for returning service members and reservists, and proposes expanding the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program.
The FY 2009 budget builds on the department's success in reforming the foreign labor certification programs. The request of $78 million will support modernized H-2A and H-2B programs, and proposes fee financing of the foreign labor programs to align program costs and benefits.
Detailed information on the President's 2009 Budget for the Labor Department can be found at www.dol.gov/_sec/budget2009/bib.htm.