A scaled-back version of workforce training legislation Gov. Phil Bryant last year dubbed “The Two Cars and a Boat” bill won final legislative approval Tuesday.
House passage of Senate Bill 2808 put the measure on track for a signature from a governor who last year championed it as a way to give Mississippians a chance to own a couple of cars and a boat.
The bill creates the Mississippi Works Fund with an initial $10 million allocation to provide highly focused workforce training for new and existing businesses. Funding will come from surplus money in the state’s unemployment compensation fund. The allocations are to be suspended should the jobless rate begin to climb and increased demands are placed on the unemployment fund.
Last year’s bill called for taking $50 million over a 2-year period from the employer-funded pot of money. Though backed by Bryant, legislative leaders and the Mississippi Economic council, the bill died in the session’s homestretch, a consequence backers attributed to the bill’s late introduction and a full slate of other bills to consider.
This year’s successful bill allots $10 million for workforce training at community colleges for 2016, and $5 million each following year. Annual performance reports to the governor and the Legislature are required.
The Mississippi Works Fund is an addition to the Workforce Enhancement Training Fund, which provides funding for existing businesses to train current personnel.
Bryant and other supporters say the training money is vital to maintaining Mississippi’s competitiveness for new business and retaining the ones it has.
“I will quickly sign this legislation,” Bryant said in a press statement Tuesday.
Companies can get up to $500,000 for custom-tailored workforce training in exchange for creating 50 to 100 jobs.
The program and its funding will be “designed for flexibility,” said Blake Wilson, president and CEO of the Mississippi Economic Council, the state’s Chamber of Commerce.
“The focus is on having the funding available for new jobs.”
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