GUEST COMMENTARY: Congressional failure brings challenges to NWI

2011-12-21T00:00:00Z GUEST COMMENTARY: Congressional failure brings challenges to NWIBy Linda Woloshansky
December 21, 2011 12:00 am  • 

The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction was unable to agree on even a single measure to reduce the mounting government debt. The result of indecision: a stalemate that might leave Northwest Indiana and other local programs underfunded.

The process is called sequestration, triggering $1.2 billion in mandatory cuts in government starting in 2013, and continuing for the next 10 years.

These cuts could be made to defense programs and any other government programs, including tax or entitlement programs. If defense programs are taken out by filibuster, the weight of the debt and sequestration will be upheld by programs and even possibly Medicare and Medicaid.

There is no doubt this immediate framework soon will be of major debate in the future political election. The bottom line of this political debate: the importance of these programs to people of Northwest Indiana.

According to the American Community Survey in 2008, about 29,000 adults in Northwest Indiana speak English "less than very well." As many as 3,600 Northwest Indiana high school students drop out, and another 40,000 are unemployed.

Northwest Indiana needs programs to build upon our workforce, motivate our students and create an environment of educational attainment.

Statistics show adults with at least a GED earn more money and have more potential employment opportunities. Annually, a high school graduate earns at least $8,580 a year more than a dropout and $471,000 more over a lifetime.

The free Center of Workforce Innovations' Adult Education Centers pay off by offering GED preparation programs, English as a Second Language classes and more. We have 12 active centers in five counties.

Last year, the CWI Adult Learning Centers enrolled just fewer than 800 students for programs in literacy, adult learning and GED preparation. CWI forecast 26,000 jobs by 2013. We're working hard to grow a viable workforce ready for those jobs.

For Northwest Indiana, what can you do to support adult education programs in the event cuts are made?

Write your congressman. The threat of such programs with proven success to be underfunded because of the federal government debt sequestration is sobering. CWI services and programs are crucial to our struggling adults. Our 12 centers serve individuals throughout our seven highly diverse counties in Indiana.

Donate. Every donation, no matter how large or small, will benefit the operating and education expenses of those centers, which provide crucial opportunities to Northwest Indiana. Although adult education classes are free, running these programs and preparing someone for their GED can average around $800 per individual.

CWI has been supported by Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority grants through the Neighborhood Assistance Program. Your donation can be a tax credit valued at 50 percent of your donation or a deduction on your federal tax form of up to 100 percent of your donation, based on your donor tax bracket.

For more information, call our office at (219) 462-2940.

Linda Woloshansky is president and CEO of the Center of Workforce Innovations. The opinion expressed in this column is the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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