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On April 1, 20 Washington State Senators and Representatives signed a joint letter to then Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and House Speaker Newt Gingrich opposing H.R. 1617, known as the CAREERS bill, which would expand and make permanent the School-to-Work Act passed by Congress in 1994. The text of the letter follows:
Dear Senator Dole, Speaker Gingrich and Washington Republican Delegation:
We, the undersigned Republican members of the Washington State Legislature, are very concerned about H.R. 1617, The Consolidated and Reformed Education, Employment, and Rehabilitation Systems Act, a.k.a. CAREERS Act. The bill, sponsored by Representative McKeon, would have a destructive effect on our educational system. Our primary objections to H.R. 1617 are based on provisions which would centralize unprecedented powers at the federal level, endorse the policies of Goals 2000, and create new federal bureaucracies.
While purporting to grant more decision making authority at the local level, the bill actually provides for federal intrusion into areas of state and local concern. Specifically, the legislation mandates that the Secretaries of both Education and Labor establish the CAREERS plan and the implementation process for the states with indifference to the state legislative process. Additionally, the bill requires that the nation's "Labor Market Information System" (a large centralized, nationwide data collection system) be planned, administered, overseen, and evaluated by a cooperative governance structure involving the federal government and the states.
The "collaborative process" included in the bill is not synonymous with local control. The Act would give authority which is properly located in the State Legislatures to Governors. For example, the bill would further remove our State Legislature from the decision making process by amending the Wagner Peyser Act by striking: "...a state shall, through its legislature," and replacing it with: "The Governor of a state shall..." The bill specifies that "If, after a reasonable effort, a Governor is unable to obtain agreement through the collaborative process...the Governor shall have final authority to make decisions and to submit the State plan." Decisions about the education of our State's children should not be left to the federal government and the sole discretion of the Governor.
We object to H.R. 1617 as it incorporates portions of Goals 2000. Be assured that the undersigned Republican members of the Washington State Legislature stand firmly against Goals 2000, especially as it relates to the removal of local control from education and the centralization of power to the federal government. H.R. 1617 refers to a "skill certificate" which is of particular concern to us. The bill defines the certificate as "a portable, industry-recognized credential...endorsed by the National Skill Standards Board." We believe that children would be required to earn these certificates, and employers would be encouraged to require them as a condition of employment.
Finally, the savings the bill purports to achieve by eliminating many duplicative programs will be more than offset by the many open-ended new agencies, departments and programs created by H.R. 1617. These new bureaucracies, as well as the implementation of a centralized, nationwide data collection system, are likely to cost the American taxpayers far more than the $6.5 billion dollars in purported savings. At a time when we are fighting for a balanced budget, we believe that an expensive and perilous undertaking such as H.R. 1617 should be avoided.
We respectfully request that you do not support H.R. 1617. Thank you for your attention to this matter and your consideration of our request.
The Undersigned Republican Members of the Washington State Legislature