The administration’s proposed budget for the Department of Labor includes one of President Obama’s top priorities this year, a boost in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from $7.25, where it has been since 2009. The president recently raised the minimum wage for federal contractors by executive order; House Republicans oppose a broader increase.
The White House is seeking $11.8 billion in discretionary funding for the agency. The money would support new efforts to reach unemployed workers and recently separated veterans with in-person “reemployment” services; assist states in launching new paid leave programs for employees who need to take time off from work to care for a child or family member; and boost efforts to enforce laws that protect workers from being denied wages and overtime pay.
The budget devotes $1.5 billion in 2015 to support a four-year, $6 billion training fund to increase apprenticeships for graduates of community colleges. It also pledges to modernize the government’s workmen’s compensation program, which has long been criticized by auditors and congressional watchdogs as being too lenient, in part because it allows employees injured on the job to collect benefits into retirement instead of moving to the federal pension system. Reforming the system could save more than $340 million over 10 years, the budget says.