Tag Archives: burns

Comish: Cutting Jobless Services Will Help the Jobless (thanks to fed funding)

Tennessee’s new commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development says cutting jobless services at 34 sites next month shouldn’t hurt out-of-work Tennesseans seeking employment, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
In fact, Commissioner Burns Phillips told members of the Legislature’s Fiscal Review Committee last week, things actually should improve.
The ability to offer services over the Internet will help, he said. And nonprofit Local Workforce Investment Act partners in communities across the state are stepping up to offer services, with the state pitching in computers and other equipment, Phillips said.
“After the career centers were reorganized, there was a lot of angst over that [cuts],” the commissioner said. “But in the final analysis what turned out was we wound up with a broader footprint in the state and not a more narrow footprint.”
He said the state now has 23 state comprehensive centers run by Labor and Workforce Development and 52 affiliates run by LWIAs.
… The 13 Local Workforce Investment Act districts are nonprofit entities funded with pass-through federal dollars. Many have multiple offices aimed at helping the jobless and employers connect.
House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, said Friday he remains skeptical that the LWIAs will close the gap created by shutting down state-run services in 34 centers and firing 125 state employees.
“It’s very disappointing,” Fitzhugh said, adding that his district in rural West Tennessee is taking a major hit.
“Here we are just coming out of this recession” and the administration chose to “decimate” career centers, he said.
Jobless residents will have to drive farther and some can’t afford an Internet connection to access the department’s website from home, he said.

Phillips’ Cabinet Appointment Made Permanent

News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Burns Phillips as the new commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
Phillips had been serving as acting commissioner of the department, after coming over from the Department of Finance and Administration (F&A) where he was managing director of customer-focused government initiatives administration-wide.
“I am very grateful to Burns for taking on this role,” Haslam said. “He has both public and private sector experience and has served in multiple departments at the state level, and I appreciate his willingness to continue serving at Labor and Workforce Development.”
Phillips, 64, received both a bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Middle Tennessee State University, and he earned his law degree from the Nashville School of Law in 1978.
He worked in the Budget Office of F&A early in his professional career before working in medical sales and marketing in the private sector. In 1991, he founded a surgical instrument company that conducted business in the United States and 30 other countries.
“I am deeply honored that Gov. Haslam has given me this opportunity to serve Tennesseans,” Phillips said. “I am committed to the people and to the work of Labor and Workforce Development, and I will continue to build upon the foundation we have established at the department.”
Phillips and his wife, Sally, live in Nashville and have two children and four grandchildren.

State Recoups $15M in Undeserved Unemployment Benefits

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State Labor Department officials say they have recouped about $15.3 million worth of fraudulently collected unemployment benefits by garnishing tax refunds and other federal payments to people who were not entitled to receive the assistance.
A scathing audit released earlier this year showed that the state overpaid $73 million in unemployment benefits. The overpayments were the result of both fraud and errors at the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The audit was especially critical of the department’s method for recouping fraudulent benefits.
Acting Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips said in a statement that the ability to reclaim fraudulently collected unemployment benefits is critical to the business community. He said the department is focused on developing strategies to prevent people from wrongfully collecting the assistance.

State Labor Commissioner Davis and Deputy Resign; Phillips Named Acting Comish

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The commissioner and deputy commissioner of Tennessee’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development have resigned.
Gov. Bill Haslam announced the resignation of commissioner Karla Davis for family reasons in a news release on Monday. Haslam’s spokesman David Smith said the deputy commissioner, Alisa Malone, also resigned, although he did not provide a reason.
Haslam named Burns Phillips as acting commissioner. Phillips serves as a managing director in the Department of Finance and Administration.
Haslam said Davis has served as commissioner since the beginning of the Haslam administration. Prior to that she served as director of Urban Strategies Memphis HOPE, overseeing programs for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Haslam said he was grateful to Davis for her service.

Note: The Haslam news release on Davis’ resignation is below.

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