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Showing Some SKILLS (UPDATE)

UPDATE (3/14): The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found “Enacting the [SKILLS Act] would affect direct spending, but those costs are already assumed to continue in CBO’s baseline. …  implementing H.R. 803 would cost $26 billion over the 2014-2018 period.”  To summarize, the reforms and program consolidations do not result in a savings to taxpayers.

Today, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce is marking up H.R. 803—the SKILLS Act—as part of an early effort in the new Congress to reduce federal bureaucracy and eliminate a slew of duplicative programs.

This bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), would consolidate 35 federal job training programs into a single workforce investment fund that the states would oversee. While the legislation is technically “budget neutral,” any effort to trim back ineffective and redundant federal programs is one that should be applauded.

As the Heritage Foundation’s David Muhlhausen has pointed out, federal jobs training programs simply don’t work. Not to mention the fact that they have historically been saturated by fraud and mismanagement.

As it stands, the current federal jobs training system is a jumbled mass of nonsense that makes for an excellent case study in how government can grow unchecked. This bill begins to correct that bipartisan problem by corralling all of these programs into something a bit more sensible.

The bill certainly isn’t perfect. As the Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk has pointed out, it could do more to require evaluations of program effectiveness (or lack thereof) and put the pressure on the Department of Labor to justify these programs’ existence. Nevertheless, this is a solid step in the right direction.

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