When lawmakers return for a special session next month it’s been agreed that they will look to pass the second part of “jobs bill,” but House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero isn’t convinced it will create “a single additional job.”
Cafero said the heralded bill — a top priority of Democrats in the Senate which died when Democratic leadership in the House wasn’t able to convince the Senate to raise the minimum wage — makes “technical adjustments” to a bipartisan bill passed last October.
He said 80 percent of the $100 million set aside for business loans and grants has already been allocated through the first October bill. He said the bill Democrats are looking to pass simply “changes eligibility requirements and allows state agencies to keep four percent of the funding to pay for the costs of operating the programs.”
A spokesman for the Senate Democrats said he wasn’t surprised that House Republican leadership was playing politics with a bill that creates jobs.
“The fact of the matter is that besides making more businesses eligible for grants and loans, the bill creates and funds a new veteran’s job training and hiring program that will help our returning combat veterans find a job when they come home from Iraq and Afghanistan,” Adam Joseph said Wednesday in a statement.
“It is really disappointing that they would diminish that important aspect of the bill. Now isn’t the time to go AWOL on creating jobs for our veterans,” he added.
An amendment adopted by the Senate when it passed the bill back in April establishes an Unemployed Armed Forces Member Subsidized Training and Employment Program to provide grants subsidizing businesses’ costs of hiring unemployed veterans during their first 180 days on the job. It also authorizes $10 million in bonds for the program.
In the end, Cafero speculated that the bill would have broad support within his caucus, but continued to downplay the significance of the legislation.
The bill as written opens up eligibility requirements from companies with 50 employees to those with 100 employees. According to the Office of Fiscal Analysis, 578 grant applications from companies had been submitted by April 25 and the numbers are growing every day. If each of those companies receives assistance the state will have already spent $79.2 million of the $100 million in available bond funds approved last October, Cafero said.
Earlier this week in an interview on WNPR, House Speaker Chris Donovan tried to blame Republican lawmakers for killing the legislation.
“The last few days of the session, as you know, Republicans have somewhat of an advantage because they can talk and run time out,“ Donovan said. “So neither bill was able to come up in their respective houses.”
Donovan told “Where We Live” host John Dankosky that if the Senate was still unable to come up with the votes for an increase in the minimum wage, he would still seek to pass the jobs bill.