Secretary Solis Outlines 2011 Budget Request of $117B (4% increase from 2010)

[tweetmeme]Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis,  through a national online discussion with stakeholder groups, the general public and the news media, outlined the president’s fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget request for the U.S. Department of Labor, which is built around the vision of “good jobs for everyone.”  According the press release issued the DOL describes a ‘good job’ as follows:

  • Can support a family by increasing incomes.
  • Offer fair compensation.
  • Narrow the wage gap.
  • Allow for work-life flexibility.
  • Promote safe and healthy workplaces.
  • Give workers a voice.
  • Foster fair working conditions in the global marketplace.
  • Are sustainable and innovative, such as green jobs, providing opportunities to acquire the skills and knowledge for the jobs of the future.
  • Help restore the middle class.

The DOL is requesting $117 billion budget in 2011, which would be a 4% increase from 2010.  Given the political climate in Washington on spending these days, I don’t think this is going to survive at the current level.  Secretary Solis says the majority of the money will be used for unemployment insurance benefits for displaced workers and federal worker’s compensation costs.  DOL’s discretionary request is for $14  billion, and includes a $1.7 billion for worker protection programs.  If I were a betting man, this is where I would wager the cuts will be taken from.  Worker protection seems to be an easy target for the bean counters.  For some reason they don’t mind scratching a check for worker compensation costs, but no way will they tolerate any programs that could have prevented the injury from happening in the first place.

The DOL press release goes to say that under this budget, the department expects to hire more than 350 new employees, including 177 investigators and other enforcement staff, many of whom will be bilingual to better communicate with employees in the changing workplace.  According to Solis, the 2011 budget builds on the 2010 budget policy of returning worker protection programs to FY 2001 staffing levels, after years of decline.   Of course then they cite this:  “the FY 2010 budget asks for $573 million for the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is $14 million more than that agency received in FY 2010.”  Solis seems ready for the fact that she isn’t going to get what she’s asked for in 2011, just like she didn’t get what she asked for in 2010.

I applaud Secretary Solis’ request, and do wish her success in making her case for increased funding for OSHA, NIOSH and other worker protection programs, but the pessimist in me, says it just ain’t gonna happen.  I hope I am wrong!

DOL press release: http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/oasam/OASAM20100145.htm

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