Senate approves tripling fund for job training programs
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The New Hampshire Senate on Thursday approved a bill to triple state funding for job training programs.
The Democrat-controlled Senate passed the bill along party lines 14-10. Supporters said it fills in the gaps of existing programs, and would be of particular help to recent high school graduates entering trade professions, older workers on their next careers and those in recovery from addiction.
“We have 18,000 openings in our state. They need to be filled by qualified workers. We have the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, but in my district, poverty manifests itself because the jobs that are available are low-skill, minimum wage jobs,” said Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester. “This is our commitment to the people we represent. Opportunity — isn’t that what we’re all about? Providing opportunity? This is a way for us to do that.”
Sen. Bob Giuda, R-Warren, called that argument “patently false.”
“Government does not create opportunity, businesses create opportunity,” he said. “Government provides the environment in which businesses operate, and this will be a detriment to that environment.”
The bill, which now goes to the House, would increase the amount transferred from the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund to a job training fund from $2 million to $6 million each year. Republicans argued the state already spends more than $80 million per year on job training and that the bill amounts to a tax increase on small businesses.
“It’s the siren song of tax and spend, and you’ll hear much more of this I’m sure over the next two years,” Giuda said.
Democrats said much of the current amount spent on job training comes from the federal government.
“A lot of that federal funding has strings attached that handcuff the business community and handcuff workers,” said Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes, of Concord. “The purpose of this bill is to add flexibility and fill those gaps.”