DOL Secretary Chao Announces FY 2007 Budget

U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao has announced the proposed FY 2007 budget for the Department of Labor. The budget will provide additional resources for enforcement and compliance assistance to protect worker's health, safety, pay and benefits, as well as updating key economic data.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao has announced the proposed FY 2007 budget for the Department of Labor. The budget will provide additional resources for enforcement and compliance assistance to protect worker's health, safety, pay and benefits, as well as updating key economic data.

Secretary Chao said, "the President's budget protects worker safety, health and long term retirement security while striving to be fiscally responsible with taxpayers' dollars to optimize and provide effective programs."

The department proposes to spend $771.5 million to strengthen workplace safety and health, through partnerships and cooperative agreements with employers. Since 2000, the fatality rate has declined by 4.9 percent, and the fatality rate of Hispanic workers has decreased by 12.5 percent. Injury and illness rates are also down by 9.4 percent since 2002.

There is also a planned increase of $11.2 million for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for additional compliance assistance. This will be targeted to Hispanic and non-English speaking workers and the development of an improved system for data analysis, targeting and performance measurement.

The Wage and Hour Division has requested an additional $6.0 million to continue to develop a proactive enforcement program specifically geared toward low-wage industries and continue to investigate complaints in a timely manner.

The Office of Labor Management Standards (OLMS) has requested an additional $4.5 million to continue to develop union financial integrity protections and Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act compliance.

The Employee Benefits and Security Administration (EBSA) plans to launch a new data system that will electronically process annual reports of employee benefit information. There has also been a requested increase in monetary penalties for violations of laws administered by the Mine Safety and Heath Administration. The proposed changes would raise the maximum penalty for "egregious violations" from the current $60,000 to $220,000. An additional incrase of $1.0 million has been requested for mine rescue technology.

The budget also includes $3.4 billion for the new Career Advancement Accounts job training proposal. This funding could also be used by the states to provide basic employment services to job seekers and employers through community-based center or in partnership with the private sector. This request, coupled with a $150 million proposal for the President's Community-Based Job Training Grants initiative will work to prepare employees to compete in a global economy.

The YouthBuild program will have a funding transfer of $50 million, which targets 16-24 year olds for training in construction opportunities, from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to the Department of Labor. The budget also includes $19.6 million for the DOL's portion of the Prisoner Re-entry Initiative.

Improvements to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) will be covered under a proposed $8 million to update housing and geographic area samples. This plan will improve accuracy by incorporating recent demographic and geographic trends and changes in the housing stock.

The remainder of the FY 2007 budget includes benefits payments, including employment and insurance workers' compensation. The total proposed budget for FY 2007 will be $54.1 billion, an increase from the FY 2006 budget of $51.3 billion.

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