Democrats in the Idaho Legislature have unveiled their plan for creating jobs that they say will put people back to work. The six-piece plan focuses largely on helping small businesses with government support and tax credits. One proposal would also help renewable energy companies build facilities more quickly. Democrats say they’ve discussed the plans with majority Republicans, but are just at the starting point of action.
IdahoReporter has video of the Democrats' news conference announcing the jobs proposals
“When those jobs return … Idaho will be on the way to recovery,” said Sen. Minority Leader Kate Kelly of Boise. House Minority Leader John Rusche of Lewiston said Idaho has lost 60,000 jobs since the economic recession started in 2007 and that job creation needs to be lawmakers’ top priority.
Four of the six proposals, collectively called the Idaho Jobs and Opportunity Blueprint (IJOBs) target small businesses. One piece, currently in the Senate, would direct the state commerce and labor departments to offer small businesses economic information that’s currently only offered to larger companies. Proposals soon to be introduced in the House are designed to help venture capitalists by offering tax credits on investments in Idaho companies, help new small businesses with startup costs such as rent, and offer tax breaks to companies that create jobs with salaries exceeding $35,000 a year.
“All are aimed at getting or putting people to work again,” said Rep. Bill Killen, D-Boise. He said getting people back to work would help the state budget situation. “People with jobs can pay more in taxes than people without jobs.”
“IJOBs is designed to turn unemployment checks into paychecks,” Kelly said.
Another proposal in the Senate is designed to help new renewable energy companies. It would expedite the state and local permitting process for fuel cell, low impact hydropower, and landfill biomass projects. Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise, said the plan would cut through red tape. “It makes sure government bureaucracy doesn’t get in the way of green jobs.”
The final piece in the Democratic jobs plan is setting up a jobs council that would report to the governor and include the directors of the commerce and labor departments as well as representatives from the technology, agriculture, and manufacturing sector. Gov. Butch Otter has a similar Project 60 program run by the commerce department.
The three Senate proposals say they would have no impact on the state budget, though the jobs council could incur incidental travel and business costs. As written, the proposals say they could create more than 1,000 jobs if they become law, but Werk said those are rough estimations.
Democratic leaders say the three House proposals on small business will get committee hearings. The three Senate proposals have been written and are headed to committees for debate. Democrats would need support from Republicans for any of the new proposals to become law. “The first step is getting a dialogue going,” Kelly said. “We want people to be talking about jobs, not about how bleak things are.”