Maine recently made history when its State Workforce Board overwhelmingly supported a plan to require Maine’s three local workforce boards to commit 70 percent of their federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act funding to job training, or risk being decertified. As board chair, and someone involved with boards locally and nationally for over 30 years, I was proud to see the group decide to lead the country in how federal dollars – taxpayer dollars – are spent on behalf of the state’s workforce.

Your headline read, “LePage wins battle in fight over workforce development funding.” Gov. LePage didn’t win – Maine people won! Maine people, and the Maine businesses that employ them, will be better off.

For too long, mediocrity has ruled the day. That day – Jan. 26 – was different. Gov. LePage, who, as a board member, put forth a motion on this issue, reaffirmed his commitment to Maine people by exposing excesses in the system that have caused less and less of so-called federal training funds to be used for training, and more and more to be diverted to infrastructure and staffing. The board of 25 members, representing the many facets of workforce development, answered his motion with resounding support (17-3, with five members absent).

Some suggest ill intent by the governor. As federal funding continues to dry up, this board must prepare for that inevitability and protect these resources aimed at training Maine people, not maintaining the status quo.

The local workforce boards are basically pass-throughs for this funding, and this bloated, archaic and self-serving system needs to be overhauled. We cannot continue to talk about, evaluate, assess and research the situation. We need action. I cannot thank the State Workforce Board enough for taking this bold, immediate and corrective action to ensure that funding meant to support training does just that.

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