MISSISSIPPI-INSPIRED JOBS PLAN PIECE PROVIDES STATE SUBSIDIES FOR SALARIES AT SMALL BUSINESSES, MANUFACTURES

One interesting piece of the bipartisan “Jobs Bill” expected to pass in the state legislature’s special session today, would provide state subsidies for salaried positions at small businesses as well as manufacturing operations. The so-called “Step Program” is inspired by a similar law in Mississippi. The state would spend $10 million a year for two years on the plan.

State Senate Minority Leader Marty Looney tells The Hanging Shad the six-year Step Program would work like this: The state would subsidize a position at businesses in the state with 50 or less employees. The people hired would have to be unemployed but not necessarily collecting unemployment (those who have exhausted their benefits would qualify) and the business must be in a town that has an unemployment rate higher than the state average.

The state would pay 100 percent of the salary the first year, 75 percent the second two years, 50 percent the next two and 25 percent the final year. The business would take it from there. The plan is capped at $5 million each of the two years for which Steps is authorized.

A similar program–also capped at $5 million a year for two years—will target manufacturing operation. Except in that case, the unemployed requirements—for the person and the town—would not be applied. Also, the manufacturing business would not face the “50 or less employees” requirement.

Sen. Looney says in the case of the small business piece, it’s a very good investment. “The idea came from an initiative in Mississippi but has been fashioned to better apply here [in Connecticut]. It meets the needs of both small business and the unemployed,” he said. As to why the unemployment requirements don’t apply to the manufacturers, Looney said, “We want to have a situation where people can better themselves. If [a skilled worker] is employed bagging groceries, he or she should be able to move up.”

The overall jobs bill has bipartisan support. Some Republicans are expected to question the Jobs Bill but not to the point where they would offer amendments.