Washington, D.C. – With local governments cutting back on employee rolls and services around the country, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today announced his sponsorship of the Local Jobs for America Act, which will commit $75 billion to states, cities, counties, tribes and private job training programs over the next two years to address what could otherwise be devastating budget shortfalls.
The bill gives local governments some autonomy in deciding how to spend the money they receive, which Grijalva said will be critical. Many communities face ongoing shortfalls in education spending, law enforcement manpower, health care programs and other critical services.
“Government support is critical in a bad economy, when people are out of work and looking for assistance,” Grijalva said. “Congress cannot stand by and watch as teachers, policemen and firefighters are laid off around the country. It’s time to lend a hand. Not taking action would allow the worst effects of this downturn to become permanent.”
Of the money going to government agencies, seventy percent will go to states and thirty percent will go to qualifying cities and counties that meet population minimums. The state funds will be available for assistance to smaller towns, counties and unincorporated areas at the states’ discretion.
The money can be used to maintain existing staff, rehire lost workers and hire new workers as deemed necessary; maintain necessary social services, such as health care, child care, public transportation and education programs; and keep firefighter employment at a necessary level.
The bill designates $500 million to be spent on private sector job training, as outlined in the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. It also creates a separate dedicated funding stream for Native American tribes that will not be subject to competition from other recipients.
“We’re all in this together,” Grijalva said of the nation’s economic condition. “We can stand for progress and cooperation – keeping public servants on the job, keeping neighborhoods safe, keeping teachers in schools – or we can let our communities continue to struggle alone. I don’t believe in watching things get worse when lawmakers can do something to help, and that’s why I’m sponsoring this bill.”