Sunday, February 14, 2010

Recovery Act - one year later

Last week, while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was proposing to trim back a proposed jobs bill from $85 billion to $15 billion over 10 years, U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich was home – in his 1st Congressional District — touring a low-income housing construction site that will create or retain 100 jobs for some workers who have been collecting unemployment for months.

Heinrich’s visit to NewLife Homes, an affordable housing project, which will produce 48 units for individuals with mental and physical disabilities, some of whom are transitioning out of homelessness, highlighted how money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is being used in New Mexico. ARRA was signed one year ago this week — on February 17, 2009.

Heinrich told us that he supports a provision in the jobs bill that would offer tax credits to employers who hire workers who have been unemployed for at least 60 days. He says it could prompt businesses to move forward with hiring.

Business investment will improve economy

Heinrich’s Republican challenger, Jon Barela, is also talking about jobs.

He is an advocate for creating a better regulatory environment for industry and argues against tax increases.

“During these tough and uncertain economic times the last thing Congress needs to do is place more burden on individuals and small businesses,” Barela said. “Allowing individuals and small businesses to keep more of their money will allow them the opportunity to invest and spend and improve the current economic downturn.”

Barela contends that "increased taxes will compel small businesses to reduce their workforce when our nation is already experiencing high rates of unemployment.”

“Conversely, providing small businesses tax incentives will allow them to increase their workforce,” Barela said.

Jobs: Issue #1

With congressional mid-term elections this fall, deal making across party lines looks to be difficult on many issues, but it appears a jobs bill could be an exception, given the urgency of unemployment as a voter concern.

Heinrich said the final jobs bill should focus on “the most important priorities – creating good-paying jobs, helping the middle class and making targeted, responsible investments in our future.”

“It must demand transparency and accountability to guarantee all taxpayer money is used properly,” Heinrich said. “By focusing on job creation, energy independent and middle-class tax relief, we can reenergize our economy and make it work for everyone.”

Swinging a hammer again

Now, with the help of ARRA funds, Julian Gomez, a 36-year veteran of the construction industry, is wearing his hard hat again.

He was a victim of the current economic downturn when Gerald Martin Construction company was told the NewLife Homes project had been put on hold.

Now the general contractor is re-hiring, and Gomez told us that he is ready to swing his hammer again.

Now Gomez said he is hearing there is “a lot of working coming up,” and he hopes the worst is behind him.

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