Viewpoint: Retaining, creating jobs must remain top priorityThe economy is slowly moving in the right direction, but there are still far too many Minnesotans looking for work.
By: Sen. Katie Sieben, South Washington County Bulletin
With the 2012 legislative session well under way, my first priority is retaining and creating jobs in our state. The economy is slowly moving in the right direction, but there are still far too many Minnesotans looking for work.
My DFL colleagues and Gov. Mark Dayton announced a plan to put thousands of Minnesotans back to work. Included in the package is a series of smart, targeted and proven initiatives that will spark new hiring, get tens of thousands of Minnesotans back to work, and ensure that Minnesota companies and workers can compete in today’s economy.
As part of the plan, I have offered legislation (S.F. 1778) that will provide $10 million in funding for the Minnesota Investment Fund. This fund provides gap financing for small businesses and is used to attract job creators to Minnesota.
The Minnesota Investment Fund has been a great tool for the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and the economic growth of our state. During the 2011 session a $3 million investment by the state spurred investment of $46 million in private money and the creation of over 200 jobs. It is my hope the $10 million in funding for the Minnesota Investment Fund will produce even bigger results for our state.
Also included in the plan is a New Jobs Tax Credit that would provide a one-time $3,000 tax credit to any Minnesota business for each veteran, unemployed worker or recent graduate hired during the 2012 calendar year, and a $1,500 credit for each new hire through June 2013. This program would create over 10,000 new, private-sector jobs each year.
The governor’s bonding proposal would provide $775 million for new investment in infrastructure, allowing primarily private-sector employers to put tens of thousands of Minnesotans back to work. These projects vary in size from roof repair and improved insulation at existing facilities to major new construction.
Next, the jobs plan proposes an expansion of the FastTRAC program will provide career-specific training to prepare adults for the jobs of the future. Minnesota FastTRAC helps underprepared adults succeed in the workplace by integrating basic skills education and career-specific training in fields where new skills are in high demand.
Finally, the DFL jobs plan includes the creation of the Minnesota Opportunity Grants Pilot Program. These grants will be awarded to adults who pursue and complete short-term education and training at a Minnesota State Colleges and Universities institution in regionally high-demand career fields (as identified by DEED’s current demand indicator).
It is clear that our economy needs a boost. Retaining and creating jobs has to be a top priority this session and this jobs plan is a great place to start. I expect the majorities in the Senate and House to consider this proposal in the coming weeks. I also encourage all Minnesotans to voice their opinion. Visit the Senate’s website at http://www.senate.leg.state.mn.us/ to track issues you are passionate about, and feel free to contact my office (email@example.com or 651-297-8060) throughout the session.
Sieben, DFL-Cottage Grove, represents Senate District 57.