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SENATOR COLL NS' PLAN FOR MAINE JOBS
Mainers are resilient. We experience long winters, work hard at our jobs and reap the benefits of our beautiful summers and falls. Along with the rest of the country, we are currently suffering through the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. Too many Mainers have lost their jobs through no fault of their own and continue to struggle to find work in this tough economy. Putting people back to work is the key to Maine's economic recovery and my number one goal for the 112th Congress. I believe that together we need to create and foster an environment that leads to job creation and growth. Attached you will find my Seven Point Plan to create jobs, help small business grow, and put our state back on track for the 21st century.
Maine's greatest asset is its people .. Ensuring that Maine workers get the education and training they need to compete in the 21 st Century must be a top priority. We must support workforce development opportunities for key sectors of our economy such as our health care workforce and manufacturers. It is also important to continue working with our universities and community colleges to further research and development projects that lead to the creation of new jobs in the 21st Century.
Glreater Efficiencies at the Department of Labor
TO DEVELOP A 21ST CENTURY WORKFORCE, MY PLAN WOULD HAVE:
Robust Workforce Development
Maine workers must have access to workforce development and job training programs that help them hone their skills and enhance their careers. These job training programs should assist the manufacturing industry in Maine by providing training to mechanics, engineers, ship-builders and designers, industrial managers, and various other workers. It is important that Maine companies work with community colleges and the University of Maine to develop manufacturing-based curricula and job training programs. In addition we must provide workforce development assistance to communities harmed by the closure or realignment of military installations, such as the Brunswick Naval Air Station.. My plan redirects Economic Development Administration resources to such areas.
Proven Track Record of Success When Maine faced a shortage of nurses,
I worked to provide increased funding for nurse education and workforce development programs to increase the supply of nurses in our state. I also worked to provide funding for targeted workforce development programs, such as the iRadiologic Training Program at Kennebec Valley Community College, which has increased the number of skilled workers in the area of radiology. This program produces between 18 and 20 graduates a year. Placement so far has been 100 percent, with graduates earning starting salaries of $40,000 a year. I have also worked to support R&D projects that have led to spin-off firms which help keep our young people in Maine.
Government agencies must provide more efficient and productive services to the American people .. In these difficult economic times, it is imperative that the public sector reduce waste. Therefore, the Department 01 Labor should investigate ways that it can reduce paperwork and "red-tape" with respect to federal job training programs. The department should also seek to identify ways that it can cut costs by working in conjunction with other government entities, such as the Department of Education, and the private sector.
NATURAL RESO RCES
Promote Agricultural Exports from Maine
Exports of Maine's products such as blueberries, potatoes, and lobster help sustain and create jobs in our state. Given these challenging economic times, it is more important than ever that Maine take advantage of opportunities to expand its export markets. Every $1 billion in agricultural exports supports 12,000 jobs, and increasing this amount could play an important role in reviving our economy. Boosting support to the Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Services, which actively works to promote U.S. agricultural and fisheries commodities abroad, would help promote Maine's homegrown natural products.
Support Development of Offshore Wind Energy
To ensure the U.S. leads the world in developing renewable energy technologies, private and public investments are needed to develop the technology and make its deployment affordable. Deepwater offshore wind has enormous potential to help us meet our nation's electricity needs, and it presents an exciting opportunity for the State of Maine to create thousands of much-needed, good-paying and sustainable "green jobs." Estimates show that development of five gigawatts of offshore wind in Maine - enough to power more that 1 million homes for a year- could attract $20 billion of investment to the state and create more that 15,000 green energy jobs that would be sustained over 30 years. Investment in programs to spur advancement of deepwater offshore wind is an investment in Maine's future. We must not lose these jobs to China as has increasingly occured with solar technology.
HELP NG MAIN
Small businesses are the engine of America's job growth. With unemployment at historic levels, we must do more to encourage investment in small businesses so that they can grow and add jobs .. My plan includes a series of proposals targeted at small businesses.
Encourage Small Business Investment
One tool that small businesses have found very helpful in recent years is the Section 179 provision of the tax code, which allows them to expense equipment immediately, rather than depreciate these investments over many years. My plan would make the Section 179 expensing provision permanent at $125,000, with a phase-out at $500,000. I would also broaden the Section 179 expensing provision to cover investments in retail space, leased space, and restaurant improvements.
My plan includes other provisions to update depreciation schedules to encourage investment, such as a reduction in the depreciation periods on commercial and residential buildings to fifteen years. I would also make permanent the provision of tax law allowing restaurants to depreciate equipment over fifteen years, instead of thirty-nine and a half years. This is much more realistic - restaurants cannot remain competitive and attractive to patrons if they renovate only once every four decades.
Reduce the Payroll Tax to Encourage Job Growth
The tax package agreed to by Congress and the President in December of 2010 included a two percent cut in the employee portion of the payroll tax. No cut was provided for the employer portion of the payroll tax, however, which means that struggling businesses continue to face a six percent tax on every dollar they pay to their workers, up to the payroll tax limit. This tax discourages businesses from adding jobs. With unemployment stuck above nine percent for twenty-one consecutive months, we must do more to encourage businesses to hire.
My proposal includes a reduction of the employer portion of the payroll tax by two percent on the first $50,000 of payroll. Many economists believe that reducing the employer portion of the payroll tax will give businesses an incentive to increase hiring. Based on estimates, a two percent reduction in the employer portion of the payroll tax could lead to the creation of 1.4 million jobs.
cun NG RED TAPE
I share the concern of many Mainers that we have tied up our job creators with red tape. With unemployment still at record levels, we must ensure that federal regulations do not impose an unnecessary burden on job creation. A good example is the EPA's proposed new regulation known as the "boiler MACT" rule. This rule could cost Maine businesses $640 million, when less costly approaches could be used to address emissions from boilers. This rule also conflicts with other federal programs. For example, when the Department of Energy awarded one Maine school a $300,000 grant to help buy a new pellet boiler to reduce the school's use of fossil fuels, the school board turned down the federal grant because the EPA's proposed regulations would have greatly increased the cost of the boiler.
Another example of regulatory overkill was the EPA's new lead paint rules. While all of us want to see lead paint removed or contained, the EPA's flawed implementation of new lead paint removal regulations would have placed an impossible burden on our carpenters, painters, plumbers, electricians -- virtually everyone in the construction industry. The rules require contractors who work in homes built before 1978 to be EPA-certified or face massive fines of up to $37,500 per violation per day.
Maine contractors are committed to eradicating the threat of lead paint, but the fact is that there were only three certification trainers in the entire state -- all in southern Maine. Last June, the Senate passed a bipartisan amendment I authored to extend the training deadline and to delay the punitive fines.
Federal agencies must take into account the impact on small businesses and job growth before imposing new rules ..
It requires federal agencies to analyze the indirect cost regulations can have on the public, such as higher energy costs, higher consumer prices, and the impact on job creation.
It obligates federal agencies to comply with public notice and comment requirements, and prohibits them from circumventing these requirements by issuing unofflclat rules as "guidance documents."
It frees small businesses from onerous fines and penalties the first time they fail to comply with paperwork requirements imposed by federal regulations, so long as no harm comes from that failure.
MY PLAN CONTAINS SEVERAL OTHER PROVISIIONS TO CUT RED TAPE:
IMPROVING THE TRANSPORTAT ON OF MAIN P 00 eTS
Furthermore, trucks weighing up to 100,000 pounds are already permitted on many Federal interstates in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, and the neighboring provinces in Canada. This puts Maine at a distinct competitive disadvantage.
Maine's businesses and trucklnq firms are currently put at an economic disadvantage by federal law that hinders the safe and efficient transportation of g'oods and materials that are shipped by truck. Maine law already allows trucks weighing: up to 100,000 pounds to operate on State and municipal roads. Heavy trucks already operate on some 22,500 miles of non-Interstate roads in Maine, in addition to the approximately 167 miles of the Maine turnpike. But the nearly 260 miles of non-turnpike interstates that are the major economic corridors in our State are off limits.
My plan would allow the heaviest trucks to travel! on our Federal interstate highways in Maine rather than being forced to use secondary roads and downtown streets. It will benefit our economy, promote jobs, lower fuel costs, and make our roads safer.
INVESTING IN MAINE'S F T R
Investment in research and development is critical to the breakthroughs we need to keep our economy competitive, and to create good jobs. The R&D tax credit provides an important incentive for this investment, but it needs to be updated so more companies can benefit from it.
My plan includes a five-year extension of the R&D tax credit, which would provide the certainty businesses need for their investments.
EXPANDING OPPO T NITIES FOR MA NE'S SMALL BUSI ESSES AN FARMERS
Small businesses playa critical role in our nation's economy. In Maine alone, we have 141,000 small businesses. During the last decade, America's small businesses created about 70 percent of all new jobs. Our economic recovery ultimately depends on our nation's small businesses, and the current crisis demands access to markets that have not been previously explored. As a former head of the New England SBA,. I know how essential expanded markets are to job growth.
The federal government is the largest consumer of goods and services in our country-purchasing more than $535 billion dollars in FY 2010. Maine has a long tradition of supplying quality products to our country-from Navy combat ships made by Bath Iron Works and all its small business partners, to office supply stores that sell staplers, paper clips, and office supplies, to engineering companies that support our infrastructure.
Maine's goods and services are known for their exceptional quality, durability, and value .. Selling to the U.S. General Services Administration, U.S. Department of Defense, and to other federal agencies, is a win for everyone-Mainers,. Uncie Sam, and the American taxpayer!
I will continue to work to open up the federal marketplace to Maine's innovative businesses.