The following is a news release from Senator Mary Landrieu's office:
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, D-La., today voted in favor of the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act, a bill aimed at strengthening the economy by creating jobs and giving relief to small business owners in Louisiana and across the country.
"Although Louisiana has not experienced the economic downturn other states have felt, there is reason to be concerned," Sen. Landrieu said. "In the last two years the state's unemployment rate has risen from 4.6 percent to 6.1 percent, and in the third quarter of 2009, Louisiana's personal income fell faster than any other state. Plant closures, especially in North Louisiana, have kept families worrying about where the next pay check will come from.
"The HIRE Act will help reverse that trend and prevent double digit unemployment in Louisiana by providing tax incentives for small business owners hiring new employees. Funding for much-needed infrastructure improvements is also on the way for the State and local governments struggling to balance their budgets. These measures will create private sector jobs and strengthen local economies in some of the hardest hit parishes in Louisiana."
The HIRE Act passed the Senate today by a vote of 68-29. Eleven Republicans joined Democrats in voting for this bipartisan, job-creating measure. The bill now heads to the President to be signed into law.
"It is an encouraging sign that 11 Republican Senators took the American people's call for bipartisanship seriously," Sen. Landrieu said. "Unfortunately, there are still too many of my colleagues who are more interested in political gamesmanship than in passing common-sense legislation to help get people back to work."
The HIRE Act will strengthen U.S. transportation infrastructure by continuing the provisions in the national highway authorization bill – the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act (SAFETEA-LU) – until December 31, 2010. This allows Louisiana to continue many of its long-term transportation projects upon which intrastate and interstate commerce relies.
In all, Louisiana is expected to receive more than $700 million to continue its federally funded highway program until the end of the calendar year. Of these funds, $59 million were added to Louisiana's share for projects in the National Corridor Infrastructure Improvement (National Corridor) programs, which include LA-1, as well as I-49 North and South.
The HIRE Act extends tax cuts for small business entrepreneurs, allowing them to continue to make the investments they need to grow their businesses and hire more workers. Under this legislation, small businesses will be able to write off up to $250,000 of certain capital expenditures in 2010, rather than depreciating those costs over time. That means that this bill will free up capital and allow businesses to invest in growth opportunities now, when their access to normal capital markets has been severely constricted by the economic crisis.
Additionally, the HIRE Act has implemented tax cuts and an experimental new tax credit to reward businesses that are aggressively hiring new employees. Businesses are granted an exemption from the Social Security payroll taxes they owe for every worker hired in 2010 who has been unemployed for at least 60 days. The longer that a business has a new qualified worker on its payroll, the greater the tax benefit. In fact, any business that hires and keeps a new worker on the payroll for 52 weeks under this program will be eligible for a $1,000 tax credit. These innovative market-based programs are intended to give businesses a real incentive to hire people now.
The legislation extends the popular Build America Bonds program, which gives state and local governments the financing tools they need to move forward with road improvements, water and sewage upkeep, and other critical public works projects. This $2 billion in bonds allow state and local governments to cost-effectively finance infrastructure projects, thereby creating jobs, and providing the crucial infrastructure Louisiana businesses need.
The Build America Bonds were initially created by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the "stimulus bill") and Louisiana has already used the program to inject nearly $500 million into the state's infrastructure.