As I continued my “walk-about” around South County, I continued to be on the lookout for those poor souls who continued to stand by the corners. I saw the Old Veteran and the Mother over the past few days again asking for help. I continued to wonder what I could do for them. But, the answers are not as simple.
I happened to ease drop on a conversation between two women earlier today at a Starbucks discussing their job challenges. One of the ladies talked about how she used to make $43 an hour as a restaurant manager and could not even make a close as much anymore as her friend was sharing her struggles with getting back on her feet and talked about the One Stop Center. As someone who has seen what great work the One Stop Center Team does, I was glad to see this kind of feedback. As I thought about, my thoughts again went off to Washington.
The latest Budget Blueprint that apparently the House has been considering calls for elimination of all funds for the Workforce Investment Act that helps to fund One Stop Centers throughout the United States. In Orange County, there are two in Irvine and San Juan Capistrano. They do wonderful work in providing the way for all who want to look for a job who have been unfortunately been the victims of the Great Recession. Despite all the happy talk about Economic Recovery, the fact remains that the promised recovery is yet to hit Main Street.
One program that does work is the Workforce Investment Act. HR1, the Continuing Resolution that the House Passed, calls for the total elimination of the Work Force Investment Act through a 3.6 Billion Dollar Cut in spending. This means that the entire network of One Stop Centers throughout the Country will have to be closed out if there is no further funding available. The three centers in Orange County are in danger right now.
The One Stop Centers in Orange County serve as a central focus to help retrain so that people can get back to work. Some 20,000 businesses and clients take advantage of the services of the One Stop Centers. It is simple common sense to insure that as the Country continues to grapple with high unemployment, that systems in place to try and somehow provide a sense of dignity, purpose and hope will not be destroyed. Ben Bernanke noted that the official unemployment rate is expected to remain around 8%. But, the U6 rate is the right rate which will continue to be in double digits. This means that there needs to be a sense of priority that is just simply non-existent.
I have continued to wonder about those unfortunate souls and what will happen to them. What is even more sad is that the One Stop Center and all the programs being offered are not truly known. Simply saying that jobs will be created is great. But, talk is cheap.
There is no one in the Country that does not get the fact that we have profound budgetary challenges. Whomever does not accept it and understand is clearly delusional. What needs to happen, though, is a reaffirmation of what the priorities are. Until the Grand Canyon between K Street (where all the lobbyists in Washington Call Home) and Main Street is truly overcome through a sense of courage and responsibility by the political leadership, I sense just more of the same.
I continue to wonder if I am expecting too much.