Walt Cook, The Union Democrat

A request for support from a local job assistance agency last week spawned a larger discussion of federal budget deficit by the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors.

Mother Lode Job Training officials asked supervisors to send a letter to members of Congress urging them to oppose proposed cuts in the House's version of a federal budget bill.

The cuts, job training officials say, could shut down local employment centers. The all-encompassing bill - House Resolution 1 - proposes cuts to many programs.

Employment centers overseen by Mother Lode Job Training provide "a

vast array of services" to employers and employees, the group's Lisa

Mayo told supervisors.

Supervisor Evan Royce pointed out that the cut Mother Lode Job

Training is worried about is just one of many meant to address a

massive federal deficit that, he said, amounts to $1.6 trillion this

federal fiscal year alone.

The national debt now stands at roughly $14 trillion.

"I don't feel that we understand how complex the budget issues

really are," he said. "That definitely is a huge problem for our

country and we are creating a massive burden for future generations."

Board Chairman John Gray defended the proposed letter, saying the

employment centers are "important in this day and age," when jobs are

in short supply.

In the end the vote was 4-1 in favor of sending the letter, with Supervisor Liz Bass voting no.

Bass didn't think the move complied with a policy supervisors

adopted earlier this year for letters of support, in recognition of the

ongoing state and federal budget difficulties.

That policy, County Administrator Craig Pedro explained, stipulates

that supervisors not make specific monetary requests for programs in

support letters, but they can state that a particular program is

valuable to the county.

Contact Walt Cook at wcook@uniondemocrat.com or 588-4530.