Legislative Leaders Detail Jobs Agenda

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Strategic incentives, halting burdensome regulations, workforce development, helping veterans land jobs highlight comprehensive agenda

MONTGOMERY- Alabama’s top legislative leaders today detailed an aggressive agenda aimed at helping more Alabamians find jobs by offering strategic tax incentives for new and expanding companies, easing burdensome government regulations, connecting unemployed Alabamians with available jobs through investments in workforce development and helping veterans returning from war land jobs in Alabama.

At a news conference in Montgomery, House Speaker Mike Hubbard and Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh outlined specific job-growth proposals saying despite the difficulties Alabama faces with a stagnant national economy, state government must look for ways to create jobs for more Alabamians.

“Our number one priority is boosting private sector job growth in Alabama,” Speaker Hubbard said. “Obviously, the sluggish national economy makes it difficult. However, if this recession has taught one thing it is that we must keep innovating and keep finding ways to give Alabama a competitive advantage in economic development. We’re proposing a slate of bills that will give our state more tools to recruit new industry and help existing industry expand. We also want to make the necessary investments in our workforce development platform so we can give unemployed workers the training they need to fill these jobs.”

Senator Marsh said equipping job creators with a skilled workforce and offering innovative incentives will help Alabama achieve both short- and long-term economic success.

“By continuing to invest in cutting-edge workforce training initiatives, we can ensure that Alabamians are prepared to succeed in the careers of tomorrow,” Senator Marsh said. “A skilled workforce coupled with innovative incentives that encourage businesses to grow and expand makes Alabama uniquely prepared to compete in the global economy.”

Senator Marsh added that maintaining a business-friendly environment is essential for not only recruiting new business, but keeping existing business in Alabama. He said while the state must work to get the almost 10 percent of jobless Alabamians employed, lawmakers also want to help existing business keep the other 90 percent of Alabamians working.

“Ask any small business owner what the biggest obstacle to their growth is and they’ll tell you bureaucratic red tape and burdensome government regulations,” Senator Marsh said. “We plan to examine how our laws and policies, particularly the tax code, are affecting small businesses in this state. We’ll also propose legislation requiring that, before adopting a new regulation, every state agency must determine how jobs will be affected in the state. It’s time to for state government to get out of the way and let the private sector perform.”

Legislative leaders also want to tackle an impending problem in Alabama: thousands of veterans returning from war to an economy in which it is difficult to find a job. Offering tax incentives to businesses for hiring Iraq and Afghan War veterans puts them the front of the line for landing jobs.

“In Alabama, we support our troops when they are at war and when they return,” Speaker Hubbard said. “Offering incentives for hiring veterans returning from war not only helps us mitigate what will be a growing problem around the country, it’s just the right thing to do. So many Alabamians have sacrificed so much fighting terrorism around the globe. Veterans should be at the front of the line for companies to hire once they return home from war.”

Speaker Hubbard and Senator Marsh outlined the following proposals as the jobs portion 2012 legislative agenda:

Streamlined Tax Incentives to Recruit and Retain Jobs

–          This constitutional amendment would give the Alabama Development Office and the Governor more flexibility in offering tax incentives to land major economic development projects, and retain those companies that might otherwise relocate outside Alabama.

“Made in Alabama” Job Incentives Act

–          Recommended by the Speaker’s Commission on Job Creation and passed into law in the 2011 Regular Session, this measure allows the state to offer temporary state income tax incentives to offset build-up phase tariff costs for international companies bringing jobs to the state.

–          As a direct result of this legislation, literally hundreds of foreign-based companies representing thousands of jobs expressed interest in locating their North American facilities in Alabama.

–          Unfortunately, the Alabama Education Association is suing to block the law, creating uncertainty for businesses that could take advantage of the incentive.

Data Processing Center Economic Incentive Enhancement

–          Data processing centers are unique components of a 21st century economy.  These centers employ a skilled workforce, provide high-paying jobs, and have a low environmental footprint.  This proposal would expand the scope of certain tax incentives in order to focus on recruiting more data processing centers to Alabama.

Tax Incentives for Hiring Veterans Returning from War

–          With wars winding down in Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of Alabama veterans will soon return home to a stagnant economy in which it is difficult to find a job.

–          This proposal would offer Alabama businesses a $1000-$2000 tax credit for hiring a veteran recently returned from war.

Making Workforce Development Work for the Unemployed

–          Thousands of unemployed Alabamians are able – but not trained – to enter into available good-paying skilled-labor jobs, such as construction, welding, plumbing and machine maintenance.

–          We will make the necessary investments that afford our two-year college system the resources they need to meet Alabama’s jobless with Alabama jobs.

–          It would also offer veterans a $1500 tax credit for starting their own business.

Alabama Regulatory Flexibility Act

–          The Alabama Regulatory Flexibility Act would require each state agency to prepare an economic impact analysis as well as a regulatory flexibility analysis prior to the adoption of any proposed regulation that may have an adverse impact on small businesses.

Legislation Establishing a Small Business Financing Authority

–          One of the top inhibitors small business development and growth is access to capital. Loans are increasingly difficult to come by even for good candidates with solid business plans.

–          A key recommendation of the Speaker’s Commission on Job Creation, this authority would assist small businesses with financing issues by making direct loans, helping small businesses attract more banking partners, and meeting a variety of credit-related needs.

–          Other states have created small business financing authorities.  In Virginia, for example, the return on investment has been $5.81 for every state dollar loaned to a small business. Using that calculation, a one-time appropriation of $5 million would allow the state to assist more than 200 small businesses and generate $35 million in private equity and credit in the first year the loans are made.

Creation the Alabama Sales, Use, and Lease Tax Simplification Task Force

–          The Alabama Sales, Use and Lease Tax Simplification Task Force would be a twenty-member panel required to study the issue of streamlining and simplifying the administration and remittance of sales, use and lease taxes.

More detailed information on these proposals is contained in the 2012 Jobs Agenda Fact Sheet attached to this press release.

 

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