Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Green Jobs Bill Will Have to Wait

Health care may be dominating headlines in the US, but yesterday the Democrats passed their first major piece of legislation this year. On 17 March 2010, the Senate passed a jobs bill known as the Hire Act, today President Obama signed it into law.

HIRE stands for Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act. The Senate first passed the legislation in February, but minor changes by the House forced a second vote.

Small businesses in particular will benefit from the Hire Act. The $17.6 billion bill includes tax incentives to encourage the private sector to start hiring again. The bill could generate up to 300,000 jobs through the end of the year. The legislation also extends a tax break for small businesses buying new equipment.

The HIRE Act extends the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users. The transportation infrastructure items in the bill focus on bus programs. More specifically the Hire Act would extend funding for metropolitan and statewide planning including a Clean Fuels Grant Program and Alternatives Analysis.

Although the bill expands the Build America Bonds direct payment option to include clean renewable energy bonds and qualified energy conservation bonds, a green jobs focused bill will have to wait.

This is only a small first step on the broad effort to rebuild the economy. As the President said in a ceremony at the White House Rose Garden, the bill is necessary "but by no means enough."

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