President Obama introduced a fiscal year 2010 budget proposal that will provide $13.3 billion in funding for the Department of Labor, with goals to improve conditions and benefits for workers, enforce labor standards, strengthen workforce training and reform the Unemployment Insurance System.
According to the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) "A New Era of Responsibility: Renewing America's Promise," this budget will help restore labor standards and reverse the problems created by the increased workloads and reduced staff in labor law enforcement agencies over the past 8 years. The budget also is projected to "increase funding for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, enabling it to vigorously enforce workplace safety laws and whistleblower protections, and ensure the safety and health of American workers …" A specific funding amount for OSHA was not named.
A New Era
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) applauded the Obama administrations' budget, claiming the proposal rings in "a new era" for federal government.
"We are delighted to finally have the resources to run our agencies," said AFGE National President John Gage. "This budget is a welcome departure from the 'starve the beast' policies of the last 8 years that sought to deprive government agencies and programs of the resources they needed to carry out their missions on behalf of the American people."
According to AFGE, this budget places priority on veterans, the elderly and disabled, education, the safety of communities where federal prisons are located, housing assistance and health care.
"This budget promises a helping hand for working families struggling during our economic crisis," Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said in a statement. "It will fund the programs that hardworking Americans need most – help for the unemployed, retraining for the dislocated, protections against job discrimination, and stronger enforcement of health and safety standards in the workplace. For millions of families throughout the nation, President Obama's budget is clearly designed to restore the American Dream."