BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER)--Which form of government is better qualified to help people find jobs, state or regional? That question is at the heart of a bitter controversy pitting the state Department of Labor against four regional workforce investment boards.
Governor Lepage wants to eliminate the four regional workforce investment boards to create one state board.
He argues that the regional boards are not efficient and spend only 20 cents of every dollar on actual training for job seekers, and 80 cents on administration. To eliminate those boards and create a state board instead, he needs to get a waiver from the United States Department of Labor.
The state is seeking public comment on the Governors plan until this Sunday, September 2nd.
Then the state will send the plan to the feds for review. Those who have been working on the plan say a statewide approach will be more efficient.
Garrett Oswald, the State Workforce Investment Board Director says "Currently we do have those four boards making separate policies so the service someone gets in one part of the state could be very different from the service someone else sees in a different part of the state. The governor wants to make sure that everyone has the same services no matter which one of the career centers they go into."
However, the Regional Workforce Investment Boards disagree with just about every point in the Governors plan. Tri County Workforce Development, which handles the program for Penobscot, Piscataquis and Hancock counties says it's been improving steadily over the last three years. It says it's servicing 25% more job seekers than just three years ago and has increased job placement by 32%.
In addition, it argues that the 80% it spends on administrative costs includes money used to have satellite offices in rural regions and pay for staff workers that help job seekers with resume writing. The biggest concern is that a state board will take away local control.
Joanna Russell Tri County Workforce Investment Board says "There is nowhere in this plan from the state workforce investment board where it describes a formula to allocate funds equitably to the 16 counties. They've been asked about that there is no formula today in our system with local policymaking we have funds going to 16 counties. That may not happen with this new plan if the waivers approved by us dol."
The State has 15 days to submit the plan after the public comment period ends.