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Senate Votes To Send Job Programs To States

The Senate approved a new “one-stop” job training and vocational system in a bill that would terminate more than 80 federal programs and turn their functions over to the states.

The bill, passed 95-2 Wednesday, ends such federal programs as the Job Training Partnership Act and the Adult Education Act of 1998, cuts total spending for those programs by 15 percent and turns the remainder, some $5.9 billion, over to the states in the form of block grants.

The Job Corps program for disadvantaged youth is retained as a national program, with the Job Corps and other programs for at-risk youth funded separately at $2.1 billion a year.

Democrats have opposed other Republican plans to turn other programs, such as welfare and federal crimefighting efforts, into block grants for the states. But this time they agreed that block grants were the way to go.

The legislation, said Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, senior Democrat on the Labor Committee, addresses “the need to consolidate and streamline the current fragmented system of multiple job training programs at the local level.”