04/10/12 — Rep. Butterfield touts job programs

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Rep. Butterfield touts job programs

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on April 10, 2012 1:46 PM

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U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield speaks with Melissa Wright following a town hall-style forum at the Wayne County JobLink Career Center on Monday.

One message was clear to U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield during his town hall meeting at the Wayne County JobLink Career Center on Monday morning: The federally funded programs that help the unemployed to better themselves are needed and appreciated in Wayne County.

The 1st District congressman was in Goldsboro to hear testimonies from employers, employees and job-seekers alike who have benefited from programs stemming from the Workforce Investment Act and the federal government's Trade Adjustment Assistance program.

Employers lauded the programs for performing initial screenings and providing competitive selections of candidates, adding that the program's provision to pay a portion of some hirees' salary had made hiring decisions easier and in some cases allowed businesses to hire qualified candidates that otherwise wouldn't be considered.

Others talked of how the federal help was making them more employable through allowing them to pursue higher education with many saying they could barely make ends meet without the federal boost.

"These, today, were very powerful statements," Butterfield said after the forum. "Without these programs, they wouldn't be able to survive."

He said hearing the stories from his constituents reinforced his convictions that programs that assist the jobless are worth protecting during talks about unprecedented budget cuts to social programs. Instead of numbers, he explained, it was good to see the faces who were being affected by the movements in Congress.

"These are human lives that are impacted by the federal budget," he said.

Butterfield touted President Obama's Universal Displaced Worker Program, which would effectively merge the WIA and TAA programs in an effort to nearly double its reach from 530,000 displaced workers to 1 million. He said the consolidation would make the programs more efficient.

The forum, Butterfield said, was strictly congressional, as his congressional staff, not his political staff, was with him, but that didn't stop him from sharing with the crowd his summary of what the situation in Washington, D.C. is today.

Butterfield faces challenger Dan Whittacre in the May 8 primary.

Butterfield explained that the country was essentially a $2.5 trillion business operating with a $3.5 trillion budget. He said both parties were responsible for the financial crisis, saying leaders on both sides introduced programs that increased spending. Most of the programs -- ranging from highway construction to investments in education -- were good for the country, he said, but they proved costly.

Butterfield said that the 87 newcomers to Congress in 2010 all came amidst a call for reining in discretionary spending and said conversations about where the cuts should come had not been as fruitful as hoped.

He endorsed an approach that combined cuts with increases in revenue and noted improvements in the job sector of the economy in recent months on the national, state and local levels.