Officials with Iowa Workforce Development announced this week that fifteen of the 72 local Workforce offices around the state will close. Workforce spokeswoman Kerry Koonce says it has a lot to do with the budget, but not much to do with the recent scandal over big pay for executives of the Central Iowa Employment and Training Consortium. “We were already short before the CIETC issue,” she says. Those job-training funds are dedicated to certain programs, and don’t pay for offices out in the field.
But she says the state labor agency was already lacking in federal and state funding for the field offices at the start of this year’s recently-adjourned legislative session. Workforce Development was about four-million dollars short of what it needed to keep operating as it had been. State lawmakers voted to provide three-Million to make up that shortfall, but without the entire amount and agency made clear what steps it would have to take, and provided lawmakers a list of the offices it would have to close.
Koonce says it’s just a shortfall resulting from years of federal cuts for the programs, onetime funding sources running out, and being unable to make up the differences any longer. Some of the offices will begin closing before the first of June, some not until around August first depending on things like the dates local leases end. The offices to be closed include Forest City, Pocahontas, Clarion, Grinnell, Independence, Jefferson, Guthrie Center, Vinton, Monticello, Knoxville, LeMars, Missouri Valley, Corning, Chariton, and Sheldon.