Today the EPA released its proposed update to the air quality standards for ground-level ozone.  The proposal lowers the ground-level ozone standard from 75 parts per billion, where it’s been since 2008, to a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion.   EPA estimates most areas will be in compliance with the standard by 2025. 

A revised ozone standard of 70 to 60 parts per billion was recommended by the Clean Air Science Advisory Committee, a scientific panel that advises EPA in setting the national ambient air quality standards...

Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, the 2014 Council of State Governments national chair and a 2002 CSG Toll Fellow, selected “State Pathways to Prosperity” as his chair’s initiative. He believes states can play a role in helping to ensure residents have the necessary skills to fill the jobs. The initiative focuses not only on education, but also on other issue that might affect an individual’s ability to work.

By Nevada Sen. Pat Spearman
Veterans offer unique assets to the workforce and economic development of our country. Unfortunately, many challenges exist in pairing veterans with job, career and entrepreneurial opportunities. Members of the CSG Subcommittee on Military and Veterans’ Concerns identified five categories to address this issue and ensure active service members and veterans successfully move toward their goals on the pathway to prosperity.

The U.S. Dept. of Labor announced last week that Michigan has been awarded $2.8 million to enhance and expand its short-time compensation program (STC), which is designed to help prevent layoffs through “work-sharing”. STC programs are administered through the federal-state unemployment compensation system and allow employers to reduce employee work hours during tough economic times as an alternative to laying them off. Through the STC program, employees who have had their hours reduced receive some percentage of the weekly unemployment benefits that they would have received if they had been completely laid off.  

President Barack Obama in July signed into law the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which is designed to help individuals seeking employment access the needed education, training and support services to be successful in the labor market. This complimentary CSG eCademy session offers an overview of the federal law and its impact on states and explores innovative career pathway programs currently in place.

The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded almost $170 million in grants to help put long-term unemployed Americans back to work as part of the Ready to Work Partnership initiative. The grants, which range in value from $3 million to $10 million, will go to 23 partnerships and serve individuals across 20 states and in Puerto Rico. A few of the grantees – like the Memphis Bioworks Foundation – will support projects in multiple states.

The Department of Labor has awarded $14,837,785 in grants to six states - California, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota and South Dakota - to improve employment opportunities for adults and youth with disabilities as part of the Disability Employment Initiative. The initiative awards grants to help increase the participation of adults and youth with disabilities in existing career pathway systems and other programs that bring together educational insitutions, the private sector and disability advocates. 

Hunger affects millions of children every year in the U.S. and is linked to greater rates of absenteeism and school disciplinary problems. Those behaviors are, in turn, associated with lower academic achievement and greatly increase the chance a child will drop out of school – which comes with a huge price tag for tax payers. 

The Department of Labor announced yesterday in a press release that 11 organizations across nine states have been awarded $50,744,449 in grants to improve federal job training programs through the Workforce Innovation Fund. The grants - ranging from $2.9 to $12 million - were awarded to state workforce agencies and local workforce investment boards for the second round of competition under the Fund. During the first round, approximately $171 million in grants were awarded including $147 million for 26 grants in 2012 and $24 million for two Pay for Success grants in 2013. 

States must make the connection between education and workforce development to compete in the global economy. Reducing the skills gap and providing an educated workforce are important not only to help individuals attain prosperity, but also to help states reach economic prosperity. This session explored how higher education initiatives—combined with effective state policy—will prepare America’s workforce to meet the needs of today’s employers.

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