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Hillary Clinton Campaign Press Release - Clinton Kicks Off Solutions For The American Economy Tour In North Carolina

March 27, 2008

Announces A New $2.5 Billion Per Year Workforce Training Program

In North Carolina today, Hillary launched a six-day tour to discuss her solutions to ensure shared prosperity in these tough economic times. Hillary will travel to North Carolina, Indiana, and Pennsylvania as part of the "Solutions For The American Economy" tour and will highlight ways that state and local leaders have found solutions to economic challenges. The first event of the tour took place at Wake Tech Community College in Raleigh where Clinton gave a speech outlining her plan to revive the economy and announced a new plan to invest $2.5 billion per year – or $12.5 billion over 5 years –to strengthen the nation's workforce development efforts. Her plan would make job retraining universally available to all dislocated workers, provide new Pell Grants to workers, and support on-the-job training opportunities.

"We are competing in a new global economy, but our policies to equip American worker for the twenty-first century are stuck back in the twentieth. When it comes to retraining assistance, our government is more focused on how you lost your job than how you can find a new one," said Clinton. "And while we have been rightly focused on trying to help people who are out of work, there's been too little thought and effort to help people gain new skills while they still have their existing jobs – so they can move up or move on to higher-wage positions."

During her remarks, she noted that North Carolina Governor Mike Easley has made workforce development and job retraining a major priority. In fact, he increased funding for community colleges by 15.8 percent above 2005-06 levels. He has also expanded the "Learn and Earn" initiative, which allows high schools students to obtain a high school diploma and an associate's degree or two years of university credit in five years.

Unfortunately, the commitment to workforce development has not been matched at the federal level. President Bush has dramatically undermined the capacity of our federal workforce training system, which is now training 30% fewer people than it did in 2000. Under President Bush, the number of long-term unemployed workers has nearly doubled. And of the nearly 4 million long-term workers who were displaced from jobs in 2006, close to one-third experienced an earnings loss of 20 percent or more. [BLS, Displaced Workers Summary, 2006].

Clinton's plan will rebuild the nation's training system with new initiatives that support workers who have lost their jobs and help workers currently on-the-job get new training and skills to compete for higher-wages and better positions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that 24 of the 30 fastest-growing occupations will be filled by people with postsecondary education or training over the next five years. While improving schools is essential, Clinton's plan ensures that the training needs of the workforce already out of school are met. About two-thirds of our 2020 workforce is already out of school. If we want a skilled workforce in the future, we must invest in the skills of those who are working right now.

At Wake Technical Community College, she was joined by several students and faculty members, including Bud Burton, an instructor in architecture and landscape architecture, who is working with his students on green building design, as well as Susanne Mistric, a married mom of two, who always wanted to go to college and is a double major in graphic design and web technology. Clinton also met with Shenise Gilyard, a senior at Southeast Raleigh High School and participant in Wake Tech's dual enrollment program. When she graduates from high school this year, she will have her diploma and an EMT certificate.

Hillary Clinton's Plan to Prepare Every Worker for

High-Wage, High-Skill Jobs of the Future

Making Worker Adjustment Assistance Universally Available for All Dislocated Workers: In today's economy, no industry or worker is immune from global competition or technological change. Yet current government efforts to support retraining too often focus on why a worker lost his or her job, rather than on how to best help that worker find a good new job going forward. Trade Adjustment Assistance provides generous assistance, training and income support but is limited to a narrow set of workers who lose a job because their plants relocate to a country with which we have signed free trade or trade preferences agreements. The Dislocated Worker Program – which was tripled during the Clinton Administration – actually has been cut during the Bush Administration, even as we face our second potential recession in seven years. Senator Clinton has already joined Senator Max Baucus, Representative Charlie Rangel and other Democratic leaders in calling for expanding the existing TAA program to cover service workers affected by global competition.

Today, Senator Clinton called for taking the next step – by committing $10 billion over five years to move towards a universal system where every dislocated worker is eligible for a basic set of training, adjustment and job search benefits regardless of whether their job loss was due to trade, outsourcing, technological change, or economic downturn. Senator Clinton will work to ensure that this expansion is achieved without diluting current TAA benefits or the expansion to service workers.

Providing New Pell Grants for Workers: Hillary will provide a new Pell Grant benefit to displaced workers who enroll in training and education programs to upgrade their skills. Because eligibility for federal financial aid is based on one's annual income, and not available to less than part-time students, many displaced workers do not qualify. Under this initiative, any worker who lost a job of three or more years because the plants where they were working closed or moved elsewhere will be eligible for the minimum Pell Grant benefit if they enroll in a training, certificate or degree-granting higher education program. Those who qualify for more generous financial aid awards will receive the full amount to which they are entitled. Hillary will also instruct the Department of Education to conduct a pilot program to relax certain requirements while maintaining the integrity of the federal financial aid system, so that it better meets the needs of workers. And her Administration will conduct aggressive outreach by partnering with state unemployment and labor offices to ensure that every eligible worker learns about the Pell Grants for Workers program, and is able to take full advantage of it.

Supporting New Preemptive and On-The-Job Training: Senator Clinton believes that we should not wait until workers lose their jobs to help them get new training and new skills. By strengthening opportunities for workers to get education and skills while still on the job, Senator Clinton's plan will help increase workers wages and employment prospects, while aiming to decrease dislocation as well. Her plan includes:

  • 401(k)s for Education and Training: Senator Clinton's new American Retirement Accounts will give workers a new, easy and automatic way to save for education and training opportunities. These accounts will allow individuals to invest up to $5,000 per year on a tax-deferred basis, and offer up to $1000 in matching tax cuts to help workers save. To empower workers to equip themselves with the skills to find new jobs before they have suffered a dislocation, Senator Clinton has proposed that these funds can be withdrawn penalty-free for higher education and training while workers are on-the-job. In addition, workers will also be able to withdraw 10-15% of the savings from their accounts to help tide them through periods of extended unemployment.

  • Preemptive Training Initiative for Vulnerable Communities: Senator Clinton would invest $200 million per year in a program to offer preemptive training assistance to workers and communities threatened by global competition. Under this program, communities, unions and companies could apply for assistance if they were concerned that their jobs were being threatened by global competition or technological change, and would receive competitive grants to support training and transition assistance for new jobs and new career opportunities, including those targeted to local circumstances.. The Strategic Early Warning Network (SEWN) in Western Pennsylvania involves community, business, and union leaders to identify and assist at-risk manufacturers; SEWN estimates that these preemptive efforts have saved or created more than 10,000 jobs since the program began in 1993.

    The grants would also seek to support new partnerships between community colleges, workers and local businesses to tailor credit-bearing training programs to specific local employment demand. These programs could seek to provide new ways to help workers train on the job, by adapting college offerings to workers' schedules and expanding worksite learning opportunities. One example is the Charlotte Regional Workforce Development Partnership, which brings together representatives from nine area community colleges to discuss the workforce trends, enrollment in training programs, and how the local training programs can be better tailored to address the needs of the local economy.

  • More flexible employer tuition benefit programs: Senator Clinton believes Section 127 of the tax code should be amended to allow employers to use tuition benefit programs to pay for not just for college courses, but also for literacy and English as a Second Language (ESL) or other pre-undergraduate education. This would help new immigrants and low-skilled workers to develop the basic education and language skills required for more advanced work and learning opportunities.

A Commitment to Fiscal Discipline: The cost of Senator Clinton's new training initiative is approximately $2.5 billion per year. This cost will be financed without increasing the deficit by allocating a portion of the savings from Senator Clinton's Corporate Subsidy Commission. This commission will identify unnecessary and outdated corporate subsidies for elimination and present its recommendations in full to Congress for an up-or-down vote – without amendments. [American Dream Initiative, 2005]. This approach will ensure that special interests cannot interfere to protect their own subsidies.

Building on a Bold Agenda for Job Creation: Hillary's plan to prepare our workers for the high-wage, high-skill jobs of the future builds on her bold agenda to create good, high-wage jobs in America. Hillary will restore a strong manufacturing sector in the U.S. by investing in processes and products that could lower costs, improve efficiencies, and create more U.S. manufacturing jobs. She will end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, and investing in innovation and job growth in the U.S. Her Rebuild America plan will invest in infrastructure to create good jobs, ensure our safety and enhance our economic competitiveness. And her $50 billion Strategic Energy Fund will invest in renewables and clean energy technologies that will help create at least 5 million green collar jobs.

Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton Campaign Press Release - Clinton Kicks Off Solutions For The American Economy Tour In North Carolina Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/293017

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