Labor says jobs plan sets ‘right tone’ for legislative session

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Infrastructure investments, workforce training initiatives and tax credits for businesses that hire unemployed Minnesotans are among the proposals included in a jobs plan floated by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and DFLers in the Legislature. Minnesota AFL-CIO President Shar Knutson, the leader of the state’s largest labor federation, praised the DFLers’ Jobs Plan for Minnesota, saying it sets the “right tone” for the new legislative session set to convene Jan. 24.

“Minnesota’s economy won’t fully recover until more people are back at work earning a paycheck,” Knutson said. “We hope to see this and other policy initiatives aimed at protecting and growing the middle class come out of this year’s session.”

Unveiled at a time when more than 150,000 Minnesotans are out of work, the Jobs Plan for Minnesota represents a doubling down by Dayton and DFL minorities in the House and Senate on their commitment to job creation as the state’s top priority.

The plan includes two major tenets: helping businesses grow jobs and training the state’s workforce for the “new economy.”

The main thrust of DFLers’ plan to create jobs is a $775 million bonding bill. The funds would be used to invest in the state’s public infrastructure, help businesses expand and put an estimated 25,000 Minnesotans – including members of Building Trades unions – back to work.

The plan also calls for giving a $3,000 tax credit to businesses for each unemployed Minnesotan, veteran or recent graduate they hire in 2012, and providing $10 million to the Minnesota Investment Fund, which works to attract businesses looking to relocate or expand.

Among the workforce-training initiatives included in the Jobs Plan for Minnesota is expansion of Minnesota FastTRAC, which “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.”

In total, DFLers say, the plan would create about 35,000 jobs.

The chances of Republican majorities in the Legislature acting on the plan, however, are slim. That’s bad news for Minnesota’s unemployed and under-employed workers, said Jim Monroe, executive director of the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees.

While DFLers are “offering ideas and proposals that help the citizens of this state,” Monroe said, Republicans are “mired in scandal, financial mismanagement and in-fighting,” too preoccupied to concern themselves with priorities like job creation.

The Minnesota AFL-CIO’s Knutson added, “Creating more job opportunities and incentives is the best thing state government can do for struggling middle class families and the tens of thousands of Minnesotans desperately looking for work.”

Click here to download a pdf file with the full Jobs Plan for Minnesota.