FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 1, 2022) – Representative Jonathan Dixon has filed legislation that would create a pilot program to combat the state’s workforce crisis and promote employment. The program, the Community Jobs Initiative, would provide subsidies and employment opportunities to assist individuals receiving public benefits in transitioning to long-term employment.
“It’s no secret that our state has one of the lowest workforce participation rates in the nation, and much of our work so far this session has been focused on turning that around,” Rep. Dixon said. “Today, we have less than three-fifths of eligible workers in a job – the lowest level since the 1970s. The goal of this program is to provide a clear pathway for those currently relying on benefits to make a smooth transition back into the workforce.”
The measure, HB 708, would direct the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to establish the pilot program in four counties: two with a population over 75,000 and two with a population under 25,000. The bill would encourage employers to use subsidies to provide childcare assistance, substance use disorder treatment, educational training, and transportation assistance to those employed through the pilot program. Priority consideration would be given to those who have received public assistance for less than 6 months or more than 30 months.
“This is about assisting Kentuckians in finding sustainable, gainful employment that will allow them to provide for themselves and their families in the long run,” Rep Dixon said.
The bill additionally directs the Cabinet to update their website to include a benefits cliff calculator, an interactive online tool that would allow individuals to determine the best job opportunities to help them transition off benefits. The bill would also require a link to current job postings by the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet and the Kentucky Career Center to be included.
“At the end of the day, we have to explore avenues that reverse Kentucky’s downward trend in employment,” added Rep. Dixon. “HB 708 is the first step toward building a stronger workforce.”
For more information about HB 708, visit the legislature’s website at legislature.ky.gov.