Court Hears Lawsuit Over $8 Million In Job Training Money Withheld By LePage

Dec 19, 2017

Local workforce officials argued in court on Monday that Gov. Paul LePage needed to release about $8 million in federal job training funds and said they were already affecting job seekers across Maine.

The lawsuit, from the regional workforce board Coastal Counties Workforce Inc., is asking LePage to release the funds from the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. LePage decided to withhold them earlier this year due to disagreements over the structure of Maine’s workforce boards.

On Monday, Coastal Counties Executive Director Michael Bourret said in court that some service providers for job seekers had already lost nearly a third of their staff because of the funding loss. He said if money continued to dry up, local centers may have to close, and potentially thousands of people could have fewer resources to get back to work.

Attorneys for LePage and state Labor Commissioner John Butera, meanwhile, argued that the state had the right to withhold the funds, and that Maine was helping distressed job seekers through other programs.

This story was originally published Dec. 18, 2017 at 5:17 p.m. ET.

The case is expected to resume over the next few months.