Democrats call for Senate action on jobs package

Senate Democrats held a press conference today to call on Republicans today to begin hearing a package of legislative proposals aimed at spurring business activity and creating new jobs in Indiana. Senate Democrat Leader Vi Simpson (D-Ellettsville) and members of the Senate Democratic Caucus say the proposals would improve Indiana’s job market and generate income to support families and communities.

Senator Vi Simpson and members of the Senate Democratic Caucus

The bills focus on fostering entrepreneurial ventures and leveraging small business investments as well as additional accountability for state funds directed at job creation. Funded through the redirection of existing resources from ineffective programs to those that better serve Indiana’s employers and workers, the proposals require no new state funding or new taxes.

In a memo to Senate Commerce and Economic Development Committee Chair Sen. Michael Young (R-Indianapolis), the Democrats requested that four bills containing these proposals be scheduled for a hearing in the committee.

Included in the “Real Ideas, Real Jobs” package proposed by the Senate Democrats:

  • “Small Business Concierge Team” for one-stop service to start-ups and expanding businesses (SB 348)
  • Capital Access Fund for entrepreneurs and start-ups (SB 435)
  • New hire tax credits for smaller employers (SB 583)
  • Redirect job creation funds to successful initiatives (SB 435)
  • Give preference in state contracts to companies that use Indiana labor (SB 369)
  • Immediately begin work on state infrastructure and university construction projects

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Senate Democrat Leader Vi Simpson’s remarks:

Comments from Senate Democrat Assistant Leader Tim Lanane:

Comments from Senator Greg Taylor, author of SB 583:

Senator Tim Lanane

Fast-track for small business – Senate Bill 348: To help Indiana entrepreneurs and small businesses, Senate Democrats want to create a “Small Business Concierge Team” to provide one-stop service for Indiana start-ups and businesses looking to expand. The team of specialists from various state agencies would be dedicated to assisting small businesses by fast-tracking applications for state licensing and regulatory approval, as well as helping to identify capital and other growth resources. Critical to this service is that the state help entrepreneurs become “capital-ready” by connecting them with regional networks, universities, Certified Technology Parks, and small business incubators that offer management training and low-cost facilities.

Capital access fund – Senate Bill 435: Indiana scores poorly in small businesses’ ability to access capital, a critical factor for a state’s economic performance. Reports on Indiana’s ability to provide an attractive business environment indicate not only that the state ranks in the bottom half of states on access to capital, but that the state has lost ground over the past decade.

Senate Bill 435 calls for a revision of the defunct Capital Access Fund to provide low-interest loans to Indiana businesses. Funded through dollars redirected from failing economic incentives, the program would operate as a revolving loan fund for start up and expansion costs. Management of the program would be moved from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), where it has languished, to the Indiana Finance Authority which manages other state revolving funds.

Redirect state dollars for job creation – Senate Bill 435: Also contained in Senate Bill 435, Senate Democrats want to re-establish the legislative Sunset Evaluation Committee to annually review state programs and suggest potential cuts from ineffective programs. Beginning with a focus on identifying IEDC job incentives that have not produced jobs and reinvesting in those that are successful, this committee would ensure that our limited state dollars are directed at the most effective programs benefiting job creation and income generation.

New hire tax credit – Senate Bill 583: Providing Indiana’s small businesses the same benefit now available to larger companies, Senate Bill 583 would increase access to a hiring incentive created in 2010. The tax credit approved last year under Senate Enrolled Act 23 provides a tax credit for 10 percent of the wages paid to qualified new hires during a two-year period, lowering an employer’s labor costs for those new employees. Senate Bill 583 would remove the existing requirement that a business hire at least 10 new employees to qualify for the tax credit, opening the program to smaller employers. Other current eligibility requirements would be maintained.

Indiana worker preference for public projects – Senate Bill 369: Taxpayer money spent on state contracts should help put Hoosiers to work, not profit out-of-state companies. Senate Bill 369 would require state contracts to contain a guarantee that at least 80 percent of the people working on those contracts be Indiana residents, resulting in reinvestments in Indiana businesses and workers. The requirement would also be applied to professional services contracts that are not competitively bid, such as consultants hired by state agencies.

Release state infrastructure project funds: Senate Democrats repeated their call for the state to immediately begin work on planned construction projects, state universities capital projects, roads and highways and other state infrastructure investments. Many projects have already been authorized by the General Assembly under the state budget signed into law by Governor Daniels in 2009, but have not been put out for bids.

In September Senate Democrats pushed the State Budget Agency to release bonding authority for five university projects that would create as many as 3,000 jobs. Those jobs would have translated into as much as $100 million in personal earnings by Hoosier workers, benefiting local economies. The Democrats emphasized that the projects would not require the state to incur immediate costs, as they will be funded through bond issuances. They also pointed out that bond interest rates are at a historic low, making it less expensive to borrow money.

Senator Vi Simpson