This week, conservatives in the United States Senate blocked a $60 billion piece of President Obama’s American Jobs Act from advancing — a package that would have created a national infrastructure bank and funded needed infrastructure projects while putting 450,000 Americans back to work, paid for by a miniscule 0.7 percent surtax on taxpayers making over a million dollars a year. This follows the similar conservative blockage last month of $35 billion in aid to states that would have allowed states to save the jobs of hundreds of thousands of teachers and first responders. All told, Congress has now blocked three separate jobs bills over the past month (including their original rejection of the entire American Jobs Act), a striking display of intransigence on the part of conservatives who claim to be concerned about job creation. As jobs efforts stall in the nation’s capital due to this right-wing obstruction, state legislators from 48 states and counting are letting D.C. know their states need jobs now, and many are taking the lead on job creation themselves.
Last week, the state of Hawaii approved its first roll-out of Feed-in Tariffs (FIT), a reward program that allows homes and businesses to get paid for building renewable energy systems such as rooftop solar panels and feeding that energy into the electric grid. To implement the plan, companies that install and maintain a renewable source device receive a Power Purchase Agreement from a utility, while the state government regulates the electricity tariff rate. The Hawaii FIT program roll-out will take place on all of the state's grids within six weeks. Hawaii joins Vermont, Washington, California, and Oregon in introducing statewide feed-in-tariffs.
President Obama this week announced a proposed $50 billion initiative to upgrade America's transportation infrastructure. While this infrastructure spending is desperately needed, and the focus on upgrading the nation's rail system will have broad economic impacts, the immediate job creation impact could be increased through greater support for local transit projects as well, as a new report by the Transportation Equity Network emphasizes.
WASHINGTON - Nearly three years after the Interstate 35W bridge
collapse, 25 percent of the country's bridges remain "structurally
deficient" or "functionally obsolete," according to testimony at a House
Transportation Subcommittee hearing Wednesday.
"It's only a matter of time before it's another one in the river," said Minnesota Rep. Tim Walz, a Democrat on the committee.
The fundamental challenge in this recession is that the growth that preceded it was a mirage. Bubble era borrowing created a network of financial jobs, real estate jobs and construction jobs that collapsed with the end of the bubble. Many of those jobs will never return.
An extremely high proportion (75%) of job losses in this recession are permanent rather than temporary. States will need to nurture completely new industry sectors and the infrastructure to support those jobs, while the jobless will need retraining in new skills to participate in those sectors.
TRENTON — This morning at 3
a.m. the New Jersey State Assembly passed a wind energy bill, which
would provide $100 million in tax credits for companies manufacturing
components for wind turbines in New Jersey, and a market-based incentive
program for developers of wind farms off of the Jersey coast.
The "Offshore Wind Economic Development Act," is intended to help the
state meet the mandate of its Energy Master Plan, which calls for the
development of 3,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2020.