Cochran asks Labor Secretary to move forward with new Job Center - - The News for South Mississippi

Sen. Cochran asks Labor Secretary to move forward with new Job Center

WASHINGTON, DC (WLOX) – U.S. Senator Thad Cochran Tuesday encouraged Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to expedite the construction of a permanent new dormitory for the Gulfport Job Corps Center.  A temporary center is slated to open in April.

Hurricane Katrina destroyed the center in 2005. Cochran made his request at a Senate Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee hearing to review the FY2011 budget requests for the U.S. Department of Labor.

"Almost five years have passed since Hurricane Katrina destroyed the Gulfport Job Corps Center, and the program has not been fully restored. There have been lags and delays, and we're just now getting ready to open a temporary facility. Construction of a permanent dormitory is not expected to be completed for another two years," said Cochran. 

The Mississippi republican is the ranking Republican on the Labor-HHS subcommittee.

"I hope to bring more attention to this situation so that it might help expedite things and move construction forward," Cochran said.

Solis said she would work with Cochran to try to advance construction at the Gulfport Job Corps Center, which would eventually accommodate 300 students.  She reported that 20 new students a month are currently being enrolled in the Gulfport program, with as many as 168 students expected to be housed at the temporary facility by July. 

Cochran said he was encouraged by Solis' testimony and submitted additional questions about the overall $1.57 billion budget request for Job Corps operations in FY2011 and the $105 million sought for construction and renovation.

For instance, Cochran wants to know whether future construction at the Gulfport Job Corps Center could be affected by the Obama administration's budget proposal to give the Secretary of Labor the authority to transfer up to 15 percent ($15.8 million) from the construction budget to the operations account to improve "efficiencies within Job Corps operations."

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