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Altaf Rahamatulla on April 1, 2010 - 1:56pm
Last month, President Barack Obama signed the $17.5 billion Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act into law to assist small businesses and spur job creation. This was definitely a start, but the gravity of the current crisis demands much bolder and quicker action. Congress needs to enact further state fiscal relief to support jobs and avoid the massive layoffs that threaten social and economic vitality in the states.
Federal action is still needed to provide support for state Medicaid programs by extending the increased medical assistance percentages (FMAP), boost funding for educational programs, invest in infrastructure projects and public transportation, support the long-term unemployed to sustain them until they reenter the workforce, and provide direct and comprehensive financial assistance to state and local governments to perform the vital services needed to maintain growth in local communities.
In the past few months, Congress has started to take action:
- Jobs for Main Street Act (H.R. 2847): On December 16, 2009, the House passed this bill, which would redirect money from the Wall Street bailout to fund environmental and infrastructure projects, extend FMAP, support education jobs, and provide small business loans. The bill would additionally provide funding to public safety and law enforcement jobs, address public housing needs, and invest in clean and safe water projects.
- American Workers, State, and Business Relief Act of 2010 (H.R.4213): On March 10, the Senate passed this piece of legislation to provide state fiscal relief through FMAP increases, provide support for the long-term unemployed though Unemployment Insurance and COBRA extensions through the end of December 2010, reverse a scheduled 21 percent payment cut for doctors who provide services through Medicare, and extend several tax breaks, such as the research and development tax credit. The bill also raises almost $40 billion in new revenue by reducing a biofuel tax break utilized by the paper industry and strengthening tax shelter rules.
- The Local Jobs for America Act (H.R. 4812): Rep. George Miller (D-CA) introduced this bill last month to provide $75 billion to local communities to hire needed staff over two years, funding for 50,000 private-sector training jobs, $23 billion to support education and teaching positions, and $1.18 billion for law enforcement. Overall, the legislation would appropriate $100 billion to job creation efforts. Within a month of its introduction, the bill already has 105 co-sponsors.
Individuals and advocacy organizations should press their Congressional leaders on the need for action. If you are a state or local lawmaker, please sign onto this letter calling on the President and Congress to enact a comprehensive jobs plan, including relief to states and local governments to foster economic growth and create and maintain jobs.
Campaign for America's Future - Major New Jobs Bill Gains 105 Co-Sponsoring
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Recession Continues to Batter State Budgets; State Responses Could Slow Recovery
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - An Update on State Budget Cuts
Economic Policy Institute - Dire states--State and Local Budget Relief Needed
Economic Policy Institute - Jobs Crisis Fact Sheet
Progressive States Network - Take Action: Additional Federal Job Creation and State Fiscal Relief