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Labor: Increases for job safety, training

Thu., Feb. 26, 2009, midnight

Available details of President Barack Obama’s proposed government spending for the 2010 budget year that begins on Oct. 1. A more extensive budget outline is expected in April. In most cases, the figures are for discretionary spending and do not include mandatory entitlement programs like Social Security. The percentage change is based on what Obama wants to spend next year compared with what he anticipates the government will spend in 2009 once Congress completes appropriations for this year.

Agency: Labor

2010 proposal: $13.3 billion

Change from 2009 estimate: 4.7 percent increase

Highlights: The Labor Department would get more money to boost enforcement of workplace health, safety and wage laws under Obama’s budget.

The increase in worker protection is a major shift after years of cuts to those programs by the Bush administration.

The budget also would increase spending on job training with a focus on “green” jobs and would make extended unemployment benefits available more quickly to those out of work for long periods.

At the same time, the White House projected a savings of about $4 billion over 10 years by cracking down on states that make unauthorized unemployment insurance payments and employers that evade unemployment taxes.

The administration is starting a new program to automatically enroll workers in employer pension plans or other retirement accounts to encourage retirement savings. About 75 million Americans lack employer-based retirement plans outside the Social Security system.

Obama estimated the new plan for automatic workplace pensions would increase the savings participation for low and middle income workers from 15 percent to 80 percent. Employees could opt out of the program if they didn’t want to participate.

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