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Dramatic Drop in Unemployment Shows the Difference Pro-Growth Policies Make Legislative Leadership seeks to continue progress with 2012 jobs agenda


From the Offices of House Speaker Mike Hubbard and Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh

MONTGOMERY – Alabama is reducing its unemployment rate faster than any state in the nation, which is a testament to the difference pro-growth economic policies can have on job creation, Alabama’s Legislative Leadership said Thursday.

Alabama’s unemployment rate for December was 8.1 percent, down from 8.7 percent in November and 10 percent in July. That’s a 19 percent decline in the last six months. Alabama’s progress reducing unemployment outpaces not only the national average, but also neighboring states (see attached chart).

A number of laws enacted in 2011 are contributing to a better job climate in Alabama, including:

·         The Full Employment Act, which provides incentives to companies hiring permanent workers;

·         A series of six tort reform laws that offer job creators long-needed protection from frivolous lawsuits; and

·         A crackdown on illegal immigration, which sent a clear message that only legal workers could hold jobs here.

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“Governor Bentley and the 2010 legislative candidates all ran on a promise of getting Alabamians back to work by enacting pro-growth policies, and that’s exactly what is happening,” House Speaker Mike Hubbard said. “You won’t find better workers anywhere than right here in Alabama. They are ready and willing to do the job. It’s our job to ensure Alabama’s business climate is as strong as our workers’ desire to find employment and provide for their families.”

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh credited the Republican Majority for their commitment to put Alabamians back to work and said the Legislature will continue to focus on growing Alabama’s private sector economy in the 2012 Legislative Session.

“Each and every member of the Republican Majority – including Governor Bentley and Lieutenant Governor Ivey – have time and again proven their commitment to the people of Alabama by never wavering on the mission to create jobs and grow Alabama’s private sector economy,” Senator Marsh said. “The decrease in unemployment proves that our efforts are succeeding and only strengthens our dedication to continue cutting red tape and proposing innovative solutions to help job creators put Alabama back to work.”

Alabama has by far the lowest unemployment rate among neighboring states, with Tennessee at 8.7 percent, Georgia at 9.7 percent, Florida at 9.9 percent and Mississippi at 10.4 percent. Over the last six months, the average decline in those states’ average unemployment rate was 5.3 percent, while Alabama’s rate dropped by a whopping 19 percent.

“We are obviously pleased to see such progress, but there is still much work to do,” Speaker Hubbard said. “If this recession has taught us anything it is that we must keep innovating and keep finding ways to give Alabama a competitive advantage for economic development. That’s why we are redoubling our efforts in the upcoming legislative session to pass an aggressive agenda aimed at boosting private sector job growth.”

The Legislative Leadership has made the following job-growth proposals the top priority in the upcoming Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature:

·         Streamlined Tax Incentives to Recruit and Retain Jobs

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–          Alabama’s success in landing world-class companies like Mercedes, Honda, Hyundai and ThyssenKrupp proves how effective tax incentives can be for bringing jobs to this state.

–          This constitutional amendment would allow voters to give the Alabama Development Office and the Governor more flexibility in offering tax incentives to land major economic development projects and retain those companies that might otherwise relocate outside Alabama.

·         “Heroes for Hire” – Tax Incentives for Hiring Veterans Returning from War

–          With wars winding down in Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of Alabama veterans will soon return home to a stagnant economy in which it is difficult to find a job.

–          This proposal would offer Alabama businesses at least a $1000 tax credit for hiring a veteran recently returned from war, because those who served on the front lines for our country deserve to be at the front of the line for new hires.

·          “Made in Alabama” Job Incentives Act

–          Recommended by the Speaker’s Commission on Job Creation and passed into law in the 2011 Regular Session, this measure allows the state to offer temporary state income tax incentives to offset build-up phase tariff costs for international companies bringing jobs to the state.

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–          As a direct result of this legislation, hundreds of foreign-based companies representing thousands of jobs expressed interest in locating their North American facilities in Alabama.

–          Unfortunately, the Alabama Education Association is suing to block the law, creating uncertainty for businesses that could take advantage of the incentive. Lawmakers will remove AEA’s technical argument, pass the law again and make sure Alabama once again has this competitive advantage over other states for recruiting international companies.

·         Making Workforce Development Work for the Unemployed

–          Thousands of unemployed Alabamians are able – but not trained – to enter into available good-paying skilled-labor jobs, such as construction, welding, plumbing and machine maintenance.

–          Lawmakers will make the necessary investments that afford our two-year college system the resources they need to connect Alabama’s jobless with Alabama jobs.

·         Alabama Regulatory Flexibility Act

–          The Alabama Regulatory Flexibility Act would require each state agency to conduct an economic impact analysis as well as a regulatory flexibility analysis prior to the adoption of any proposed regulation that may have an adverse impact on small businesses.

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·         Data Processing Center Economic Incentive Enhancement

–          Data processing centers are unique components of a 21st century economy.  These centers employ a skilled workforce, provide high-paying jobs, and have a low environmental footprint.  This proposal would expand the scope of certain tax incentives in order to focus on recruiting more data processing centers to Alabama.

·         Legislation Establishing a Small Business Financing Authority

–          One of the top inhibitors small business development and growth is access to capital. Loans are increasingly difficult to come by even for good candidates with solid business plans.

–          A key recommendation of the Speaker’s Commission on Job Creation, this authority would assist small businesses with financing issues by making direct loans, helping small businesses attract more banking partners, and meeting a variety of credit-related needs.

–          Other states have created small business financing authorities.  In Virginia, for example, the return on investment has been $5.81 for every state dollar loaned to a small business. Using that calculation, a one-time appropriation of $5 million would allow the state to assist more than 200 small businesses and generate $35 million in private equity and credit in the first year the loans are made.

·         Creation the Alabama Sales, Use, and Lease Tax Simplification Task Force

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–          Alabama requires taxpayers and businesses to file separate sales, use and lease tax returns at the state, county, and city levels of government.  Other states, which also have differing rates at the state, county and city level, only require a single sales, use and lease tax return to be filed.

–          Alabama’s requirement of separate tax returns causes a significant compliance burden for many companies and provides no beneficial impact on our economy. The Alabama Sales, Use and Lease Tax Simplification Task Force would be a twenty-member panel required to recommend ways to streamline and simplify the administration and remittance of sales, use and lease taxes.

·         Enhancement of existing capital outlay tax credits to recruit targeted projects

–          Under existing law, certain new and expanding businesses may qualify for an income tax capital credit of up to five percent (5%) of the capital costs of a qualifying project in each of the 20 years, commencing with the year during which the qualifying project is placed into service and continuing for 19 consecutive years thereafter. Any unused capital credit may not be carried forward to another tax year.

–          This proposal would allow for an extension of the time period in which certain capital credits may be claimed and will allow unused capital credits for certain qualifying projects to be carried forward

The 2012 Legislative Session begins Tuesday, February 7.

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