Jobs bill needs ‘full court press’


U.S. House Democrats last week announced new legislation to create one million public and private sector jobs in local communities.

The Local Jobs for America Act, authored by U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-Ca.) calls for $75 billion over two years to both save and create an estimated one million public and private sector jobs in local communities.  The new bill also would help restore vital city services that might have been affected by budget cuts. 

It is similar to a public jobs bill called “Put America Back to Work” that Minnesota U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison introduced in Congress last year. His proposal was designed to appropriate $40 billion to local governments to create jobs in the public or nonprofit sector, and in small businesses that provide public services.

Ellison is now a cosponsor of the Local Jobs for America bill, which incorporates parts of his proposed legislation.

In a phone interview last Friday, Ellison told the MSR that he expects the new jobs bill would create “3,044 jobs” in his district, which has been hit hard by the economic times. “It could be public jobs, so it could be people working on doing maintenance on buildings,” he explained. “It could be people working in various areas.”

The new bill would also fund approximately 50,000 additional private-sector job-training positions to help businesses put people back to work, which was part of Ellison’s proposed legislation. It includes $24 billion, already approved by the House in December, to help states support 250,000 education jobs, hire 5,500 law enforcement officers, and retain, rehire and hire new firefighters.

He expects passage, but Ellison refused to predict when. “You never can be absolute or promise anybody that this bill will be passed and on what day,” he continued. “That is not reality at all in Washington.” On the possibility of bipartisan support, he added, “It’s unlikely…but I hope so.”

Ellison and Miller spoke about the bill’s importance during a March 10 conference call with reporters. “This bill will quickly create local jobs that we can count on,” said Miller.

Ellison compares it to programs set up during the 1930s to provide jobs during the Great Depression. “With 15 million Americans out of work, there is no more urgent time for us creating jobs,” he noted.

“As difficult as this period of economic turmoil is, it is even more difficult for some folk. The national rate of unemployment is 9.7 percent in February, but for African Americans, it is 15.5 percent, and almost 13 percent for Latinos. I’m glad that we are pushing this effort forward.

“We will need to have a full court press effort to make sure that it gets on the president’s desk in short order,” said Ellison.

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to