02/21/2011 02:12 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Deficit Reduction to Require Investment in the Jobs Pipeline as Well as Belt Tightening

As the fragile economic recovery gains strength, the focus of the attention of our nation's leaders has shifted from the consistently high unemployment rate to deficit reduction. On Saturday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on near party lines to approve a bill that would cut current spending by roughly $61 billion -- including a nearly 90 percent cut totaling $3.87 billion out of the Department of Labor's job training programs. Reducing the deficit will require sacrifices from all, yet as our focus shifts, we should not lose sight of the fact that nearly one in 10 people in communities across the country remains unemployed.

Cutting funding for employment services and job training would be a tragic step in the wrong direction that would significantly negatively impact local communities' ability to do all they can to help people find jobs despite the tight job market. People like Richard, a twice wounded Vietnam veteran. When his 12-year management position was terminated, he thought finding another job would be easy but he soon found that jobs are scarce in this economy. After a year and a half, he turned to Goodwill, and found work as a shift supervisor. He is now anticipating a promotion. Or people like Claudia, a single mother of two girls who found herself homeless due to financial struggles. Through Goodwill, she was given the opportunity to be part of a health care training program where she found work as a Certified Nursing Assistant and graduated from a licensed professional nursing program. Goodwill impacted Claudia's life and now she is able to make a difference in the lives of others.

I believe in the power and dignity of work. Goodwill utilizes funding not only for job training but for enabling people to achieve stability in their lives and their children's lives. People that enroll in Goodwill programs are taught skills that give them a better quality of life -- team building techniques, financial management, interviewing skills, self-sufficiency and more. As the Senate considers the House's extreme proposal, I urge it to moderate the bill and to oppose the drastic cuts to job training that the House has passed in the name of deficit reduction.

Unless tens of thousands of individuals contact their Senators to urge them to update and adequately resource the workforce system, I fear that champions in the Senate may not feel that they have enough support to oppose the drastic cuts that are included in the House FY 2011 continuing resolution (H.R. 1). Therefore, I ask Congress to consider the following priorities as they make these important decisions that will affect our nation's future and I ask the public to impact legislation quickly by visiting