Editorial: Scott’s economic plan has some hits, misses

  • Posted: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 12:01 a.m.

While it’s not a catch-all plan to enthusiastically support, a recent economic empowerment reform package introduced by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., at least tries to enhance job opportunities throughout the country. Scott’s proposal is already one step forward compared to his predecessor – former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, whose legislative productivity was largely nonexistent.

Scott’s SKILLS Act, introduced in January, would provide reforms to the government’s workforce development and job training programs. It specifically targets individuals with disabilities, low-income workers and at-risk youth. It’s commendable to see the senator fighting for greater access to jobs and looking to streamline workforce education.

This will hopefully help to get Americans back to work by providing much needed training to prepare them for available jobs.

Scott actually went undercover last month to help garner workplace experiences as he drafted his bill. He bagged groceries, waited tables, rode on a public bus through Charleston and swept the floor at a fast-food restaurant, according to the Post and Courier newspaper.

The other proposal from Scott – the CHOICE Act – would provide school choice for underprivileged students. The senator from Charleston describes the plan as a way to “empower” parents and teachers to make a difference in a child’s life, but our leaders shouldn’t lose sight of the need to invest in public education. Scott’s proposal would also provide scholarships to military families and students with disabilities to attend the school of their choice. Proponents of the bill say it will inject competition into the school system, but it’s also easy to see that it could drain much-needed resources away from the schools that are in need of support.

The public school system – if it’s properly supported – can provide students with the education background needed to fill those jobs that will drive our economy in the 21st century. Scott’s plan doesn’t reinforce that outlook and could put undue pressures on certain schools.

However, Scott’s proposal can help to boost the economy by looking to the future. The U.S. needs to invest in manufacturing jobs in order to meet the needs of an increasingly technology-based economy. Increased job training opportunities can make the workforce more responsive to employers’ needs, hopefully strengthening the economy in the long run.

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