Jobs: Priority 1 for Minnesota Legislature

The 2012 Legislative Session convenes on January 24th. There is one issue we should all agree on – retaining and creating jobs in Minnesota.
Last week, Gov. Mark Dayton and DFL leaders Sen. Tom Bakk and Rep. Paul Thissen unveiled a “Jobs Plan” for our state. I strongly support it. Our plan is comprised of smart, targeted and proven strategies that will spark new hiring, get tens of thousands of Minnesotans back to work, and ensure that Minnesota companies and workers can compete in today’s economy.
Included in our plan is a New Jobs Tax Credit. This would be a one-time $3,000 tax credit to any Minnesota business for each veteran, unemployed worker or recent graduate they hire during calendar year 2012, and a $1,500 credit for each new hire through June 2013. This program would create over 10,000 new private-sector jobs this year.
Other proposals in the plan include:
• A bonding bill that provides $775 million for new investment in infrastructure, allowing primarily private-sector employers to put tens of thousands of Minnesotans back to work. I currently serve on the Senate’s Capital Investment Committee and will be sponsoring several initiatives to help our region.
• A proposal to provide an additional $10 million in funding to the Minnesota Investment Fund, which has a track record of helping Minnesota attract businesses to locate or expand in our state.
• An expansion of the FastTRAC program to provide career-specific training to prepare adults for the jobs of the future (Minnesota FastTRAC 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).
• The creation of the Minnesota Opportunity Grants Pilot Program. These grants will go to adults who pursue and complete short-term education and training at a Minnesota State Colleges and Universities institution in regionally high-demand career fields (as identified by DEED’s Current Demand Indicator).
In addition to these measures, I will continue to support the Creative Freedom Act, which has been championed by North St. Paul inventor Bob Nepper. The Creative Freedom Act would place a time limit for employers to develop or utilize an invention or proposal. Once the set time passes, the rights to the invention or proposal would be the employee’s (that designed the invention). This will stimulate creativity for both the employer and employee and boost Minnesota’s economic activity as a result of new product development and production.
Retaining and creating jobs is our top legislative priority. The DFL and GOP parties, plus the Independent party and others, will likely have different ideas on how to get Minnesotans back to work, but we need to work together to do what is best for our state. I believe this plan is a great start to the jobs discussion.
As always, please contact me with questions or suggestions about any issue. Please visit my Senate website at senate.mn/senatorwiger. I also encourage you to visit me at the Capitol, or let me know if you’d like me to stop by your home or apartment. Also, please tune in to my local cable TV show, “Your Capitol: What’s Up?,” which appears on public access channels 15 and 16.
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Senator Chuck Wiger
Chuck Wiger represents District 43, which includes portions of Ramsey and Washington counties in the northeastern Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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