Local Commentary

Senator Whipple’s Richmond Report

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Virginians need jobs and we need them now! One of my principal initiatives during the 2011 General Assembly Session is the Jobs Now! Plan of the Senate Democratic Caucus of which I serve as Caucus Chair. Our agenda is focused on growing Virginia’s economy and creating jobs for the citizens and families we serve.

The Senate Democratic Caucus Jobs Now! Plan is a legislative package aimed at addressing the current job crisis. The bills included in the package will provide assistance to existing Virginia-based businesses to save and/or create jobs.

The Jobs Now! Plan will offer a myriad of benefits to Virginia families at little cost to the taxpayers. The plan makes efficient use of existing state programs and policies without taking money from education and public safety.

Our Jobs Now! Plan is a serious attempt to address the number one need in Virginia right now: jobs. At almost no cost to Virginia’s taxpayers, we are creating and saving jobs by strengthening Virginia’s businesses, helping incubate new industries, giving small businesses more access to capital and increasing the productivity of workers.

The Plan supports an increase in the amount of small business loan guarantees. The program allows Virginia to back more loans for small businesses which means more small businesses will be able to get access to desperately-needed capital. More capital means more small businesses succeed which saves and creates jobs.

Another part of the Jobs Now! Plan is the extension of the tax credit for Virginia’s commercial aerospace industry. This will help Virginia remain competitive in a growing and ever more important industry that has the potential to create even more high-quality, high-paying jobs. The Plan includes a bill directing the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science to study ways to jump-start Virginia’s emerging aquaculture industry.

The Jobs Now! Plan includes a bill establishing a program whereby unemployed workers may continue to receive unemployment compensation benefits while participating in workforce skills enhancement training from a potential employer. The Plan also includes the establishment of job retraining accounts. It allows an individual to open a job retraining account would to be used by the individual for expenses related to job retraining. An individual’s employer would be authorized to make matching contributions to the account and would be eligible for a tax deduction for the contributions to the extent that the contribution was included in the employer’s federal taxable income.

Another important piece will help the state invest its limited resources wisely and ensure lawmakers make the best use of taxpayer dollars. It provides for a legislative study to examine the effectiveness of Virginia’s economic development incentives.

As the 2011 Session moves into its final days, I can report that all these bills have been adopted in a bipartisan fashion by the Virginia Senate. As always, I will stay focused on growing Virginia’s economy and creating jobs for the citizens and families we serve.

 


Senator Whipple represents the 31st District in the Virginia State Senate. She may be e-mailed at district31@senate.virginia.gov

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