LePage and Maine Department of Labor drop all appeals; Agrees to release nearly $8 Million in federal funding
Murray, Plumb & Murray has won a case of first impression against Maine Governor Paul R. LePage for client Coastal Counties Workforce, Inc. (CCWI). On March 1, 2018, United States District Court Judge John Woodcock granted CCWI’s motion for permanent injunction, ordering Governor LePage and Maine Department of Labor Commissioner John Butera to release the Program Year (PY) 2017 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funds, totaling nearly $3 million, and continue to make the funds available through August, 2019.
Governor LePage and Commissioner Butera have agreed to drop their appeal of the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. In addition, as a result of this case, the State has agreed to release the funds to the two other workforce groups in Maine as well, a total of $8.4 million in federal funds.
According to Kelly McDonald, counsel to CCWI, “We are grateful to Judge Woodcock for his careful and thoughtful opinion granting our request for an injunction. This case demonstrates that nobody, not even the Governor, may ignore federal law. We are glad that CCWI can go back to its work of providing workforce support and training for Maine citizens.”
Attorneys Kelly McDonald and Sage Friedman successfully represented CCWI in the case, which was filed in October 2017 and resulted in the Court issuing a very thorough, 64-page decision in January 2018 that rejected the multiple defenses raised by the Governor. Within days the LePage administration appealed the ruling, and asked for the judge to continue withholding the money as the appeal proceeded. Judge John Woodcock denied that request in January and ordered the administration to expeditiously release the funds.
Given their ordeal with the LePage administration, Local Workforce Boards have been without funds since July 2017. These workforce boards and their network of service providers throughout Maine were forced to reduce or eliminate operations, leaving many Maine citizens without the training and workforce development services they need.
“The PY17 funding that the administration is now releasing covers services from July 1, 2017 through June, 30, 2019,” said McDonald.
“We are going to be rebuilding our service delivery system, which has already begun with our service provider rehiring the staff that they had to lay off.” said Antoinette Mancusi, Deputy Director of CCWI. “Regrettably, our system has lost a number of talented staff and this rebuilding will take time, but we will continue to provide these vital services.” she added.
“We are glad that we are now able to move past this dispute and refocus our efforts on helping Maine workers and businesses.” said Michael Bourret, Executive Director of CCWI. He further stated, “Maine is well-served by its Workforce System, providing workforce training & services to about 50,000-75,000 Mainers annually. As the economy changes, the system does its best to adapt to new realities. We are grateful to the front line staff; they are dedicated people with a lot of passion for the work they perform.”
Coastal Counties Workforce, Inc. (CCWI) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) entity founded to administer and oversee the delivery of the workforce system’s services for the six coastal counties in Maine (York, Cumberland, Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox, & Waldo).