Blueprint: Creating Jobs and Strengthening the Middle Class

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Final Blueprint Conference Call: Job Creation: Feb 22nd

Please join the Progressive States Network on Tuesday, February 22nd, for a conference call on creating jobs and boosting local economies.  The call will focus on messaging and framing around several key policies, including green jobs workforce development, energy efficient schools and buildings, and innovative financing mechanisms for energy efficiency and clean energy projects. We'll be joined on the call by:

  • Maine State Representative Diane Russell
  • Massachusetts Senator Jamie Eldridge
  • Emmaia Gelman, New York’s Center for Working Families
  • James Irwin, Center on Wisconsin Strategy
  • Rob Brown, Opportunity Maine

You can RSVP for this call by clicking here.

Blueprint: Creating Jobs and Strengthening the Middle Class

Smart Growth and Green Jobs   *   Fabiola Carrion

At a time when almost one out of every ten Americans is now unemployed, progressives have the opportunity to take the lead on Job Creation policy. This Dispatch will address Job Creation policy options featured in Progressive State Network’s 2011 Blueprint for Economic Security.  Now is the time for progressive to contrast the empty rhetoric of the right.  After sweeping to power in many states, conservative efforts at job creation are nowhere to be seen, at the same time that they refuse to even consider the critical investments needed to help put Americans back to work and rebuild prosperity in our states.

Thankfully, progressives have a different vision to offer: a green economy that will put Americans back to work by creating good jobs at home, setting our nation on a path to energy independence, and marking a new era of American innovation, production, and leadership.

While Americans continue to look for jobs, the economy itself has been growing for six quarters. Instead of creating jobs to put millions of Americans back to work, big banks and corporations continue to amass wealth at the taxpayers’ expense. As industries that once employed vast swaths of our population continue to disappear, and as other nations continue to move full speed ahead in the race to a new green economy, advancing policies that promote and invest in green jobs here at home is more critical than ever.  The demand is clear.  In fact, a recent Pew Research Center poll shows that 84 percent of respondents cite the job crisis as their top priority, significantly outpacing worries about the budget deficit and health care costs. Americans desperately want to see real investments in job creation, and they want to see it now.

As part of Progressive States Network’s Blueprint for Economic Security 2011, we have identified three common-sense, progressive solutions to create jobs and strengthen the middle class: Green Jobs Workforce Development programs, Energy Efficient Schools and Buildings, and innovative Financing Mechanisms that leverage public and private investment in clean energy and energy efficiency. These policy solutions are part of legislation that has been proven to create and sustain jobs, made our work and living environments healthier, and spurred economic growth for our communities, including options to provide financing without delving into state budgets.

The Clean Energy Economy: A Working Definition and Framework

The clean energy economy generates jobs and investments that expand clean energy production, increase energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, waste and pollution, and conserve water and other natural resources. With green jobs, the American people have the opportunity to be the leading workforce in the world in construction, manufacturing, installation, maintenance, and agriculture -- improving energy efficiency, aggregating demand for our renewable energy businesses, finding alternative ways for transportation, and lessening our dependence on foreign fossil fuels. 

The U.S. Senate’s failure in 2010 to pass comprehensive clean energy reform means that state legislation is our only chance to create sustainable, green jobs that remain in the United States. A majority of states have enacted some sort of green economy policy; the task at hand is to build upon this existing foundation, integrate efforts, and weave it all into a comprehensive clean energy economy package.

By advancing a green economy, we are creating jobs for today and tomorrow, being smarter about our spending, and making a healthier and more sustainable environment for our families.

Green Jobs Workforce Development

The green economy is moving faster than other industries and the demand for skilled workers in key fields is expanding. However, there is a shortage of qualified workers in existing and emerging clean energy occupations. It is irresponsible that, with unemployment consistently near the double digits, we have available positions with no workers to fill them. The lack of a coordinated green workforce development pipeline has hampered the availability of trained and certified workers to meet the expansion of the green economy. We must train these workers so that they can get jobs now, and we must ensure that every American worker obtains the 21st century skills needed to compete with our global counterparts.

Progressive States Network is committed to building a trained workforce that earns competitive wages, fosters new skills, and builds a career ladder. It is time for progressive legislation to meet the actual skill demands of the 21st century labor market. The following is a responsible framework for workforce development for a green economy.

Energy Efficient Schools and Buildings

SUMMARY: EMAIL ONLY: Green buildings focus on increasing the efficiency of resource use -- energy, water, and materials -- while reducing building impacts on our health and the environment during the building’s life cycle, through better design, construction, and operation.

Through the enactment of green building legislation, more than half of the states in our country have realized that we can build a strong workforce while saving costs for the American taxpayer. Building and operating green buildings promotes the responsible use of taxpayer dollars, minimizing energy and resource input costs, reducing waste, and generating significant financial savings that can be put to work for the public good. Studies show that there is not a major difference between the costs of constructing a green building versus constructing non-green buildings.

Retrofitting and construction of energy efficient buildings results in the creation and retention of trained workers, while conserving energy. Our green buildings model legislation has been designed to highlight some of the best approaches to green building legislation to date in order to create sustainable, energy-efficient methods that save money and reduce negative environmental impacts. The gains achieved by our model legislation are multiple: creating and retaining jobs in the construction, manufacturing, and services industries, reducing our dependence on foreign fossil fuels, keeping our families and children healthy, cutting spending through energy savings, and improving our students’ performance.

Financing Mechanisms to Leverage Investment for Energy Efficiency Projects

In 2011, progressives in the states have a chance to set our nation on a path to energy independence and create a new era of American innovation, manufacturing, and leadership. We must establish the legislative platform that gives our small businesses the opportunity to develop and manufacture clean, safe forms of energy that create sustainable jobs.

Progressive States Network supports state-based efforts to accelerate the implementation of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects with programs such as (1) revolving loan funds; (2) on-utility bill financing; and (3) feed-in-tariffs.

The Stateside Dispatch is written and edited by:

Nora Ranney, Legislative Director
Marisol Thomer, Outreach Director
Devin Boerm, Health Policy Specialist
Fabiola Carrión, Broadband and Green Jobs Policy Specialist
Cristina Francisco-McGuire, Election Reform Policy Specialist
Tim Judson, Workers' Rights Policy Specialist
Suman Raghunathan, Immigration Policy Specialist
Altaf Rahamatulla, Tax and Budget Policy Specialist
Mike Maiorini, Online Technology Manager
Charles Monaco, Press and New Media Specialist
Ben Secord, Outreach Specialist

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