DFLers, Dayton pushing new jobs plan

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With some 175,000 Minnesotans still looking for work, DFL legislative leaders and Gov. Mark Dayton held a press conference to unveil their new comprehensive jobs plan.

“There are middle-class families struggling to make ends meet,” said House Minority Leader Paul Thissen (DFL-Mpls). “This jobs plan is a collection of a lot of really good ideas.”

The package would include $35 million for a $3,000 “New Jobs Tax Credit” to businesses that hire unemployed Minnesotans, veterans or recent graduates in calendar year 2012. After 2012, the credit would fall to $1,500 per new employee and then finally expire at the end of June 2013.

Dayton said he hopes to fund the plan partially by closing “corporate tax loopholes,” but added that the overall impact of the plan would be to decrease taxes.

The DFLers also proposed a $775 million bonding bill that would focus on infrastructure improvements. Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook) said the package is needed to revitalize the state’s construction industry, which he described as being in a “depression.”

“This proposal needs to move early in the session so we don’t lose an entire construction season,” Bakk said.

Other elements of the plan include:

  • an “Affiliate Nexus” sales tax on online retailers;
  • $10 million in new funding for the Minnesota Investment Fund;
  • a $4.5 million per year expansion of the FastTRAC job-training program; and
  • a pilot program to provide $2,000 grants to Minnesotans who receive job training in selected fields.

Bakk said Minnesota retailers consider the internet sales tax their “No. 1 priority.” Bakk and the DFLers believe it will help level the playing field for brick-and-mortar stores, who are currently at a “competitive disadvantage” with online retailers like Amazon.

The legislative session is set to begin Jan. 24, 2012.