Connecting state and local government leaders
Plus: A governor moves to rein in remote work. City workers go on strike. A semiconductor factory announcement. And more news you can use from across the country.
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It’s Friday, Feb. 3, and we’d like to welcome you to the weekly State and Local Roundup. This week, workforce development was on the agenda for several cities and states.
Most notably, Hawaii launched a $35 million workforce development initiative that will provide free skills training and job-placement support for 3,000 state residents in an effort to ease labor shortages in growing and high-demand industries. It’s a challenge that is top of mind for public officials across the country.
The Good Jobs Hawaii initiative is remarkable in that it is a collaboration across all levels of government; more than 70 employers; and philanthropic organizations. Under the program, the University of Hawaii Community Colleges will offer free skills training in four sectors that are considered important growth industries for Hawaii's future: health care, technology, clean energy/skilled trades and creative industries, which include jobs supporting TV shows and movies.
“Good Jobs Hawaii will equip people with the skills they need to get good jobs—jobs that provide economic stability, economic mobility, and a sense of purpose and respect,” said Keala Peters, executive vice president for education and workforce development at the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce, in a press release. “With the current labor shortage, employers are coming to the table to accelerate efforts to build equitable pathways to quality jobs for residents.”
Funding comes from multiple federal, state, county and philanthropic resources, including $16.4 million over the next three years from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
Earlier this week, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan walked Detroiters through the steps to access millions in job training opportunities during an annual citywide community meeting. Duggan is using $100 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act for several job training programs in his city.
Among the programs are scholarships to help those who read below an eighth grade level; a hybrid program where people work full-time three days a week and go to training the other two days for job opportunities in IT, skilled trades and health care; and a program for Detroiters who have been unemployed for the last six months that pays up to $300 a month to learn new skills.
"For Detroiters who never learned to read, never got a high school diploma, are unemployed for more than six months, people who don't make enough to buy a house and raise a family, there are scholarships for you here," Duggan said at the event.
Similar to Hawaii’s initiative, the paid options are for high-demand industries like IT, professional services, health care, manufacturing, construction and infrastructure.
These investments are coming during a period of tight labor markets and a need for additional skilled workers in key fields. States and cities are not only working to position themselves for the many jobs being created with new infrastructure investments and new industries, but also to address unfilled pre-pandemic jobs.
Later this year, Colorado will launch its State Apprenticeship Agency to further the state’s investment in apprenticeship programs.
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment reported this week that the state has recorded 5,826 active apprentices, 287 active apprenticeship programs and 473 employers participating in these programs.
The agency, which will open in July, is intended to be the primary point of contact with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship; accelerate new apprenticeship program growth; and oversee apprenticeship programs, including registration, certification, quality assurance and compliance with federal laws.
While apprenticeships tend to be most common in trades like construction, the agency will look to expand further into industries such as health care, education, information technology and business services.
Make sure to come back here every Friday for the week’s highlights. If you don’t already and would prefer to get it in your inbox, you can subscribe to this newsletter here. Have a great weekend.
News to Use
Trends, Common Challenges, Cool Ideas, FYIs, and Notable Events
- Semiconductor race. Kansas is giving more than $300 million in incentives for a new semiconductor factory in Wichita. The project could bring 2,000 jobs and more than $1.8 billion in capital investments to the state’s most populous city. It is the second project approved under Kansas’ APEX incentive program, which was established last year in the state’s effort to lure Japanese tech firm Panasonic to build a new battery plant in De Soto. This week, the state announced that in addition to the $829 million in tax credits and other economic incentives already promised, it is also giving Panasonic an unused $4.9 million government building in Olathe for free.
- City workers strike. In Portland, Oregon, hundreds of public employees walked off the job Thursday in the city’s first municipal strike in more than 20 years. The stalemate stems largely over cost-of-living increases amid rising inflation as well as workplace safety concerns. The strikers come mostly from the city’s parks, transportation and environmental services bureaus, and represent just under 10% of Portland’s workforce.
- Reining in remote work. Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro has ordered about 2,300 state government employees, many of whom had been working remotely, to start reporting to the office at least three days a week under a new administration policy to take effect on March 6.
- Winter storms. Two years after a winter storm killed 246 people and left millions of Texans without electricity, Texas cities once again buckled under menacing weather. But unlike in February 2021, when the state’s electric grid nearly collapsed, this week’s outages were caused by localized issues, The Texas Tribune reports.
- Covid. Following an announcement earlier this week that President Biden will end the federal Covid public health emergency declaration on May 11, Illinois said it would follow suit and rescind its disaster declarations also on May 11. California is set to end its state of the emergency this month. Most states long ago quit using emergency powers, according to Illinois Policy, leaving Illinois as one of seven states still claiming Covid is a public health emergency. A recent study found that students lost one-third of a school year to the pandemic, and had not recovered from those losses more than two years later.
- Water fight. After a key deadline passed this week without an agreement on how to address the Colorado River’s crisis, California is now the lone holdout as the six other states have agreed to cuts in water use. California appears to be banking on its high-priority senior water rights, the Los Angeles Times reported, while the other states are presenting a united front.
- Forever chemicals. Illinois is jumping into the fight against so-called forever chemicals. Attorney General Kwame Raoul filed a lawsuit this week accusing 3M and DuPont, as well as more than a dozen other companies, of conspiring to hide the dangers of chemicals known as PFAS for short. The Illinois complaint isn’t as expansive as California’s demand for corporate-financed medical monitoring, the Quad City Times reported. Yet the growing list of lawsuits facing 3M, DuPont and the other companies highlights how states are filling a void left by the federal government.
- Homelessness. The Washington State Department of Licensing will offer a one-time original or renewed state ID card at no cost for those who are homeless and expected to continue living in Washington. The free ID card program was made possible by a state law passed in March, and took effect Jan. 1.
- Pension reform success. The Houston Chronicle looked backed at Houston’s successful reform of its pension systems this week. In 2017, Houston faced an estimated $8.2 billion deficit and rating agencies had downgraded the city's credit, citing the massive pension debt and related costs as a key factor. Now, nearly six years after Mayor Sylvester Turner shepherded a package of reforms through the Texas Legislature and the ballot box, the city's pension liability has shrunk to $2.2 billion, a quarter of what it was in 2017, according to City Hall figures.
- Development overhaul. Boston Mayor Michelle Wu filed an order Monday asking the City Council to formally begin breaking up Boston’s independent planning and economic development arm. The order—a home-rule petition that would need City Council, state legislative and gubernatorial approval—would bring a new Boston Planning and Development Agency under city oversight.
- Primary race. The Democratic National Committee is meeting this week in Philadelphia to discuss possible changes to its nominating calendar. Following a proposal by President Biden to make Michigan one of the early primary states, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill Wednesday to move its primary from the second Tuesday in March to the fourth Tuesday in February.
Picture of the Week
No matter the season we are getting this City clean!#NewYorksStrongest were in #Brooklyn removing several abandoned dining sheds, which means cleaner streets for all.— NYC Sanitation (@NYCSanitation) January 29, 2023
See a shed that needs to go? Call 311. pic.twitter.com/oDn7mdRwP7
End of an era? The New York City Department of Sanitation tweeted this week asking city residents to report "useless [and] abandoned" dining sheds. Many of the structures have inadvertently become homeless shelters and are taking up parking spots. Local residents have also noticed a rise in garbage and pest-related issues with the shacks. The agency's goal, according to CBS News, is to bring the outdoor huts up to compliance.
Government In Numbers
15 million acres
The amount of state and federal land that is surrounded by private land, with no legal entry by road or trail. The New York Times reported that if this land was “one contiguous piece, it would form the largest national park in the country, nearly the size of Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut combined.”
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