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04_Latest News - February 2010

04_February 3, 2010
Solis Seeks Passage of Jobs, Business Plan


WASHINGTON—Labor Secretary Hilda Solis urged lawmakers Wednesday to pass President Barack Obama's small business lending plan that's designed to help spur job growth.

"We know that small businesses are often the driver of economic expansion that communities across the country desperately need, and the President's new small business jobs and wages tax credit will reward job creation and the good jobs that pay more," Ms. Solis said.

Ms. Solis testified before the House Education and Labor Committee regarding the Labor Department's 2011 fiscal budget proposal and several goals the agency plans to achieve over the next year.

Under the roughly $33 billion plan—which would be funded from monies Wall Street firms repaid the government—employers would receive a $5,000 tax credit for every net new worker hired during 2010; startups would receive half that amount, among other incentives.

Committee Chairman George Miller (D., Calif.), said another "critical mission" for Labor is to protect the health and safety of workers. "For too long, OSHA failed to respond to real dangers and put American workers in needless peril," he said during his opening statement.

The Obama administration has proposed $14 billion to fund Labor Department divisions. Several divisions, including the Employee Benefits Administration, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Wage and Hour Division, among others, saw moderate increases to their fiscal 2011 unit budgets from 2010 levels.

Aside from jobs creation, Ms. Solis has said the Labor Department will focus on efforts to enhance worker protections and safety, combat unemployment insurance fraud and add more enforcement officials to thwart improperly classified workers.

Meanwhile, Rep. John Kline (R., Minn.), the senior Republican on the House Education Committee, applauded the Obama administration for taking action to ease unemployment numbers, but criticized the controversial Employee Free Choice Act, which could make it easier for workers to join unions.

"I cannot help but question many of [the president's] proposed policies that seem to run contrary to the goal of job creation and economic certainty," Mr. Kline said. He later added, "The question remains: how will 'card check' create and sustain jobs?"

Those who oppose EFCA have said the legislation could likely stump job growth, business activity and investments.




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