Washington, DC – The White House released the American Jobs Act in legislative language for Congress late today. Included among its provisions is a cover-over of funds to the CNMI Treasury to pay for tax credits to employers, which the President has proposed to encourage hiring. The Northern Marianas and other U.S. insular areas will also receive a set-aside for teacher salaries and school modernization, much as they did in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
“I am very grateful to the President for keeping the special tax circumstances of the Northern Marianas in mind,” said Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan. “And for continuing to recognize the importance of educating people to get our economy moving.”
President Obama delivered his jobs act proposals in broad outline to a joint session of Congress on Thursday night, but details like the cover-over provision were left to the legislative language the White House was drafting.
Sablan wrote to the President on Friday, the day after the speech, supporting the American JobsAct, but reminding Obama of the need for funds to be covered over to the Commonwealth government to pay for tax credits.
The Jobs Act contains a tax credit of up to $4,000 to employers who hire workers who have been unemployed for six months or more. A $5,600 tax credit is available for hiring veterans and a $9,600 credit for hiring veterans with disabilities.
The Making Work Pay tax credit in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included a cover-over provision, which transferred over $15.9 million to the CNMI Treasury. Last year’s HIRE Act provided a similar cover over for a tax credit to employers who hired new employees and kept them for at least one year.
“Like the Recovery Act and the EduJobs Act before it, the new American Jobs Act also includes funding for teacher salaries and for school renovations,” Sablan said. “And the Northern Marianas are fully included.”
$150 million is set aside for the insular areas in the Teacher Stabilization section of the Jobs Act. The funds are intended to prevent teacher layoffs and also to create additionaljobs in public early childhood, elementary, and secondary education. As with the Recovery Act, the Commonwealth would be required to keep school funding at at least the level of the previous fiscal year, although a waiver is provided for a state or territory experiencing a precipitous decline in financial resources.
$125 million is provided for the four smaller insular areas for school modernization, renovation, and repair of public elementary or secondary schools and for facilities used for early learning programs. Private schools would also be eligible for some funding to help with compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other limited purposes.
The proposed American Jobs Act also makes $12.5 million available for community college modernization in the insular areas.
“The President’s bill is just a proposal at this point,” Sablan said. “But I agree with the strategy of providing incentives for employers to hire in the short-term.
“And for the long-term our economic well-being will always depend on having people with skills and education.
“The President’s proposal helps us there, as well.
“Just as I did the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” added Sablan, “I’ll be supporting the American Jobs Act.”