FRANKFORT, Ky. (WYMT) Government cutbacks are leaving some workers in Kentucky unsure of their futures.
Ironically, those concerned are the people who spend every day helping the unemployed.
“I’ve been there. I know how it feels. It makes you sick to your stomach," said Chad Scott.
Scott was laid off from his coal mining job in 2015.
He says the Middlesboro career center, however, helped him get back on his feet.
“The people that have helped the people in this area for so long in that situation, now they’re facing that situation,” said Chad Scott.
On the heels of what state leaders call a multi-million dollar deficit in 2016, education and workforce development secretary, Hal Heiner, in a statement Tuesday, said Kentucky’s 51 career centers will be reduced to 12 hubs and 8 satellite locations.
The four main hubs in Eastern Kentucky will be in Hazard, Prestonsburg, Morehead, and Somerset.
We’re told there will also be satellite locations in Whitesburg, Manchester, Jackson, and McKee.
“This is a fiscally prudent move, but it does negatively impact human life,” said Bell County Judge/Executive, Albey Brock.
We’re told the move will affect 95 workers’ jobs, statewide, but those 95 people will be offered alternative positions or roles.
“I would say to both the unemployed and the employees with state government, in the short term, let’s be patient and find out exactly what OET has proposed and how to deal with this,” said Brock.
Judge Brock says he hopes to find out in the coming days, what exactly the alternative roles for workers at the 31 affected career centers will be.
Another concern for some is the means by which unemployment is attained.
Scott says he hopes it still involves face-to-face communication.
“Just being able to sit across from someone and talk to them instead of just punching stuff in on a computer, their info, or waiting on an email,” said Scott.
One focus of the reorganization is making the unemployment process for “mobile” but it is still unclear to some, what exactly that means.
State leaders stopped short of saying career centers will be shutting down, but we’re told the offices in Corbin, Middlesboro, and Harlan will be “affected” by the reorganization, among others.
State officials announced the reorganization of the Office of Employment and Training (OET) this week. Officials with the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet say it will restructure the current 51 Kentucky Career Centers to 12 hubs and some satellite offices throughout the state.
Officials say the restructure comes on the heels of a multi-million dollar deficit in the 2016 fiscal year.
As part of the plan, they will pull employees out of 31 local offices across Kentucky - including Harlan, Bell, Pike, Ashland, and Corbin. The cabinet will work with the local Workforce Development Boards (WDBs), and other state and local partners and officials to determine if the affected local offices will continue to operate.
Two hubs will serve the most Eastern portion of the state located in Hazard and Prestonsburg. Other hubs across the region will be placed in Morehead and Somerset.
Senator Robin Webb who serves the 18th senate district questioned the decision.
"It is a little perplexing to me when I look at what's staying open and what's not," said Senator Webb.
We talked to several other lawmakers who said the news came as a shock and did not learn of reorganization until Tuesday.
Senator Webb says she feels like the legislative branch was omitted from the process.
"I just feel like the forum and the substance of this decision is a little lacking," said Sen. Webb.
Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Hal Heiner says they discussed the move with WDB board members across the state prior to the announcement.
95 employees will be impacted by the move. However, those losing their job with OET will be offered positions within the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet or offered a transfer opportunity to another cabinet within state government. Officials say their pay will not decrease.
Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Hal Heiner said some of the regional centers could potentially close. However, that decision will be made by local Workforce Development board members.
"I think we should have had notice, I think we should have been working on this in anticipation and been part of the criteria for the reorganization to some degree," said Sen. Webb.