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Summer Youth Employment Advocates Fear Funding Cut
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State advocates for summer youth employment opportunities say Governor Jodi Rell has eliminated their funding to help balance the state’s budget. WNPR’s Jeff Cohen reports.

No one is happy with the state of the state’s budget, and that includes advocates for summer youth employment. They say the governor cut the $3.5 million she had originally budgeted for them to run a series of programs statewide that help young people get summer jobs.

Jim Boucher is a Hartford city councilman who works with youth employment for Capitol Workforce Partners. He says summer jobs are important because they pave the way for young people to enter the workforce and they help keep them in school.

“Young people without work experiences really are left with a significant challenge in terms of their future success.”

Jeffrey Beckham, one of Rell’s budget advisors, says that the governor has kept funding for some non-youth related jobs programs. But summer youth employment is one of the cuts.

“We’re continuing to work and continuing to struggle with trying to make these worthy programs available where we can with just the very scarce resources that we find ourselves with these days. And it’s a tough situation.”

At a hearing on the issue this week at the capitol, Northeastern University Economics Professor Andrew Sum said there is reason to fear the funding cut. Sum says the country has spent the past decade pushing young people out of work and growing jobs for people over 55.

“What we did in this county is grandpas work and kids don’t. The greatest age reversal in the history of America has taken place, whereby we threw all the young people out and we added more and more jobs to individuals over the age of 55. This has never before happened in American history.”

Advocates and state officials say they are hoping to get federal funding to replace the state money the governor wants to cut. Last year the program served nearly 6,000 young people.

For WNPR, I’m Jeff Cohen.