Bills would let state control local workforce board

Published: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 7:11 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 7:11 p.m.

The local workforce board voted Tuesday to oppose legislation that would give the governor the power to remove and approve the directors and board chairs of the state's 24 workforce boards.

FloridaWorks' executive committee also plans to reach out to local business groups in case they would want to weigh in on the bills moving through Tallahassee.

Currently, county commissions appoint board members, a majority of whom must come from private business. The boards approve executive director hires.

The Alachua County Commission will consider a resolution supporting local control next Tuesday. The Bradford County Commission already passed such a resolution that it sent to the governor and state legislators.

The workforce boards use federal funds funneled through the state to provide job training and unemployment assistance programs. FloridaWorks oversees career one-stop centers in Gainesville and Starke.

The legislation also gives more budget oversight to the state and seeks to establish a single statewide workforce brand.

“In general I think the state is responding to some troubled areas,” committee member Thomas McIntosh, a Realtor, said after the committee meeting. “My knee-jerk reaction is they're trying a one-size-fits-all model when we don't have problems locally.”

The Central Florida Regional Workforce Board came under fire last year after spending nearly $14,000 to buy capes for the unemployed as part of a “Cape-Ability” challenge to defeat “Dr. Evil Unemployment,” the Tampa Bay Times reported. Gov. Rick Scott asked all 30 board members to resign.

In 2010, the Miami Herald reported on poor record-keeping by the South Florida Workforce Board and poor results from job training programs.

The proposed legislation includes House Bill 7023 sponsored by Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, and Senate Bill 1398 sponsored by Sen. Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando. The House version passed the Committee on Economic Affairs by a party-line vote on Jan. 11, the Times reported.

Local committee member Frank McGeown, owner of Star Import Services, was adamant in his opposition to the bills, saying the state is gearing up for a takeover of the workforce system.

“We need to oppose it because each region is so different in their approach to handling their needs,” he said.

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