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State Board Report

February 2015

Two areas covered in President Barack Obama’s budget released on February 1 have caused a significant number of comments by opponents of professional licensing. President Obama is encouraging states to study "Reducing Unnecessary Occupational Licensing Requirements" and to consider "Spreading the Development and Adoption of Industry-Validated Credentials." Looking at both of these provisions, which would provide $15 million for eliminating unnecessary occupational licenses and $500 million for creating new credential processes, Scott Shackford writes in his “Hit and Run” blog: "Will this lead, in fact, to the creation of new occupational licensing programs to make sure people who want to work in these fields get the necessary credentials promoted by the government?"

The White House’s descriptions of the budget provisions state:

"Reducing Unnecessary Occupational Licensing Requirements. The Budget seeks to reduce occupational licensing barriers that keep people from doing the jobs they have the skills to do by putting in place unnecessary training and high fees. The Budget proposes a $15 million increase for grants to States and partnerships of States for the purpose of identifying, exploring, and addressing areas where occupational licensing requirements create an unnecessary barrier to labor market entry or labor mobility and where interstate portability of licenses can support economic growth and improve economic opportunity, particularly for dislocated workers, transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses."

"Spreading the Development and Adoption of Industry-Validated Credentials. The Budget provides $500 million for Industry Credentialing and Career Pathways Grants, including $300 million specifically targeted at information technology jobs. These grants would be competitively awarded to create employer-validated credentials, where they do not yet exist, drive additional employer uptake of credentials that do exist, and develop curricula and assessments that lead to the credential. Grants would be awarded to employer collaboratives in partnership with the workforce system, post-secondary institutions such as community colleges, and other innovative education and training providers."

In commenting on how President Obama’s proposals might impact Massachusetts, Kelly O’Brien, senior staff writer for Boston.com, pointed to a May 2012 report "License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing," by the Institute for Justice. Their study found licensing laws were blocking new workers from entering the professions and they ranked each state as to how "burdensome" its licensing requirements were.

Mr. O’Brien notes that since that report was issued, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick did make some reforms which went into effect in November 2014 and others that will go into effect in May 2015.

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