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Legislative Committee Fails To Act On Governor Hassan’s “Gateway To Work” Program

Republicans Block The Proposal That Is Strongly Supported by New Hampshire’s Business Community 

CONCORD –Today, the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee failed to act on Governor Hassan’s Gateway to Work proposal, which would have strengthened workforce development in our state and has strong support from the NH Business and Industry Association. An attempt to remove the proposal from the table was defeated by the Republican majority on the Fiscal Committee.

Announced in Governor Hassan’s State of the State Address earlier this year, Gateway to Work will use repurposed existing federal funds to help New Hampshire’s citizens succeed in the workforce through strengthening job training, creating new apprenticeship opportunities, helping remove the barriers that cause too many citizens to fail in the workplace, and helping young people in the Granite State get a leg up on their futures.

“As we educate our young people and build the highly skilled workforce of the future, innovative businesses looking to grow here in New Hampshire need more workers now,” Governor Hassan said at the Gateway to Work kickoff event in March. “We have an opportunity to better use the talent of our own people right here in New Hampshire, helping our businesses thrive while closing the opportunity gap for New Hampshire’s children and families.”

“Through Gateway to Work, we can provide more of the workers our businesses need to thrive,” Governor Hassan said. “We can help give more of our families the opportunity to work their way to self-sufficiency and into the middle class. And we will do so using only existing federal funds, while achieving long-term savings for taxpayers by moving people off of public assistance,” added Hassan.  

The New Hampshire business community has continued to say that New Hampshire does not have enough skilled workers to fill the open jobs currently available now.  Recently the Washington Post highlighted New Hampshire’s growing need for skilled manufacturing workers as the majority of the workforce heads into retirement.

“While New Hampshire’s 2.8 percent unemployment rate is largely a good thing — it’s one of the nation’s lowest — it also means the labor pool is shallow. It’s created a squeeze for manufacturing companies in particular for two reasons: The industry’s workforce is aging at a faster than average rate, while fewer young workers have the proper skills — or interest — to fill the void of retiring workers,” wrote the Washington Post.

Governor Maggie Hassan issued the following statement after the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee failed to act on Governor Hassan’s Gateway to Work proposal:

“New Hampshire’s continued economic growth depends on our ability to meet the workforce needs of our businesses. As we work to retain existing businesses and attract new ones, the number one concern that I consistently hear from employers is their need for skilled workers.

“Gateway to Work has strong support from the business community because it would move people off of public assistance into sustainable careers, saving taxpayer dollars and providing innovative businesses with the workers they need to grow and thrive. With a strengthening economy and an unemployment rate that is among the lowest in the nation, the business community is desperate for workers. I am disappointed by the Fiscal Committee’s repeated delays with transferring the existing federal funds to launch Gateway to Work, and I am concerned that Republicans on the committee are allowing politics to prevent us from moving forward with this common-sense initiative to fill jobs at growing companies and help close the opportunity gap for New Hampshire’s children and families.”

After the vote, Sen. Lou D’Allesandro (D-Manchester), member of the Fiscal Committee, released the following statement: 

“I am frustrated and disappointed that the Joint Fiscal Committee played politics with our state’s economy today by voting against transferring TANF dollars to fund the innovative Gateway to Work program.  This program that has strong support from New Hampshire’s business community would have gone a long way towards strengthening our economy by providing potential employees with the skills and services they need to successfully gain employment.”  

“We hear constantly that with an improving economy, the most significant challenge our employers face today is finding skilled workers who are able to take jobs when offered. Gateway to Work targets potential employees who have barriers to employment such as reliable child care and transportation and helps lower those barriers to get them into the workforce. Every day that we delay implementation of this program, we leave both our unemployed constituents and our businesses behind.  We should be doing all we can to help Granite Staters escape poverty and move off of public assistance and towards self-sufficiency, and the vote by the Fiscal Committee today is a step in the wrong direction.” 

“Today’s action by the Republican majority forces our unemployed constituents to stay on public assistance programs instead of finding good employment and leaves our businesses without the workers they need to thrive and expand our economy.”

Representative Mary Jane Wallner (D-Concord) issued the following statement after the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee failed to act on Governor Hassan’s Gateway to Work proposal:

“I am extremely disappointed that Republicans continue to obstruct the implementation of the Gateway to Work initiative. It is a common sense program critical to New Hampshire’s future and should be approved as quickly as possible.

The Gateway to Work initiative would help workers, businesses, and the economy as a whole by investing in job training, apprenticeship opportunities and other supports for hard-working Granite Staters. There is no reason to delay an initiative that benefits everyone: Gateway to Work would help workers to get good-paying jobs, help businesses utilize a skilled workforce, and reduce government spending by moving people off public assistance and into stable careers. Republicans need to stop playing politics with our state’s future and approve Gateway to Work.”

By continuing to block programs like the “Gateway to Work,”  Republicans in Concord are showing that they are less interested in doing what is best for working people and businesses in New Hampshire and more interested in chasing wild conspiracy theories from doctored videos and sticking to their partisan opposition to Governor Hassan.

Republicans routinely complain about having too many people “living off the system” on public assistance and yet oppose one of the strongest proposals to help people “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” by providing them with the skills necessary to find a lasting career that will help lift them out of poverty.

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About Matt Murray

Matt Murray is the creator and an author on the NH Labor News. He is a union member and advocate for labor and progressive politics. He also works with other unions and members to help spread our message. Follow him on Twitter @NHLabor_News
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