This week Senate Democrats continued their push for the passage of legislation that would create jobs and promote economic development. Various members offered a series of proposals that would protect Hoosier jobs and encourage businesses to rehire laid-off workers.
State Senator Bob Deig of Mount Vernon offered an amendment to Senate Bill (SB) 239 to allow for the recovery of local property tax incentives if a business closes during the deduction period or fails to employ the number of individuals promised in the agreement. The clawback provision would allow tax incentives to be recouped and used for other economic development projects or returned to taxpayers. The language was originally authored by Sen. Deig in SB 218.
Sen. Deig said his proposal was, in part, in response to the recent announcement by Whirlpool that the company would move the Evansville production operations to Mexico, putting approximately 1,100 local workers on the unemployment rolls.
Listen to Sen. Deig’s comments from the Senate floor:
Sen. Deig also offered an amendment to SB 188 to give Hoosier preference to public contracts. It made a recommendation to public works divisions to Indiana employers when signing new contracts. Similar language was authored in SB 219.
State Senator Sue Errington of Muncie proposed an amendment to SB 35 that required the Indiana Department of Agriculture to submit a comprehensive report of an ongoing local food grant program’s impact and findings to the General Assembly. The findings would provide information on how the state could work with local farmers and grocers to expand local and organic food production and distribution. Sen. Errington authored similar language in SB 194.
Sen. Errington also proposed the reinstatement of the requirement of the Meat and Poultry Inspection Program under the Indiana Board of Animal Health. The recent budget cuts of $1 million in state general funds and resulting loss of $1 million in matching federal monies threatens 134 locally owned state-inspected meat processing facilities as well as an estimated 1,600 jobs in those processing facilities. Hundreds of small family farms depend on the facilities and inspectors for the processing of their products.
Listen to Sen. Errington’s comments from the Senate floor in favor of the proposal:
State Senator Vi Simpson of Ellettsville proposed an amendment to SB 236 to provide a tax credit for Indiana employers to rehire laid-off workers. The credit would be funded by an already established training fund and not require a new state appropriation. The proposal would provide an incentive to small business owners to take the risk of bringing workers back. Simpson said the proposal was modest, but had the potential to put as many as 2,000 Hoosiers back to work. The amendment came from language already authored in SB 352.
Listen to Sen. Simpson’s comments on the proposal from the Senate floor:
Simpson also called for the immediate release of all state appropriations for building and renovation projects at state universities and colleges. Simpson said over $300 million is awaiting approval by the State Budget Committee, and if released, would provide immediate work and jobs in local communities.
State Senator John Broden of South Bend also offered a proposal to protect the state’s Enterprise Zone tax credits and Community Revitalization Enhancement District (CRED) tax credits. Broden said the amendment was intended to protect tax credits that aim to improve the economic development in distressed communities facing high unemployment and poverty. Broden’s amendment would have removed the two-year suspension of the state’s Enterprise Zone loan interest tax credit, Enterprise Zone investment cost tax credit, and Community Revitalization Enhancement District tax credit now contained in Senate Bill 236.
These tax credits have led to the creation of thousands of jobs throughout the state of Indiana,” said Broden. “I am disappointed that at a time we should be doing all we can to create jobs in this state, we are eliminating the essential job creation tools.
With the exception of Sen. Errington’s proposal protecting the Meat and Poultry Inspection Program, Senate Democrats’ efforts failed to pass the Senate. As session continues, Senate Democrats will continue to work on these issues and protect and create new Hoosier jobs.