As the national political conversation focused on deficits and budget cuts over the past few months, many state legislatures have at least noticed that the top concern of voters across the nation remains job creation. The New York Times - in an analysis of a list compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures - counted the total number of bills introduced in 2011 legislative sessions that attempted to address this concern: 500.
On the eve of its adjournment, New York’s state legislature provided a new opportunity to create thousands of jobs for New Yorkers. The new law, the Power NY Act of 2011 (AB 7006-A), establishes the first statewide “on-bill recovery” program — allowing charges for retrofitting a home or business to be included in a utility bill statement and paid over time, with monthly payments calibrated to include energy savings so that the loan doesn’t increase the bill. The passage of this bill is considered a next step to New York’s Green Jobs/Green NY Act, legislation that was enacted in 2009 to retrofit one million homes in five years and consequently create 14,250 full time jobs. The Power NY Act of 2011 comes at a time when most Americans believe that their government’s number one concern should be the creation of jobs.
Department of Labor statistics released last week revealed the bad news: unemployment is back to 9.1%, after only 54,000 jobs were added in May. These numbers come as Fortune 500 companies are reporting record profits, still benefiting from the large tax cuts that reckless conservative economic policies have provided them over the past 10 years. Recent studies show why, in order to address a stubborn domestic jobs crisis head-on and to reinvigorate America’s competitiveness in the global marketplace, advancing state policies that encourage green job creation is more critical than ever.
A new opportunity has arrived for states to take charge of America’s green economy. After the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave states the green light in 2010 to authorize contracts securing investment in renewable energy, progressive legislators have taken swift action to accelerate the production of renewable energy, consequently spurring economic growth, creating jobs, and lessening our dependence on foreign fossil fuels.