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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Stresses Importance of the American Jobs Act for Pennsylvanians

Press Release

Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack met with Pennsylvania business, community and agricultural leaders to discuss the Administration's strategy to strengthen the U.S. economy and to highlight what passage of the American Jobs Act will mean for Pennsylvanians.

"The American Jobs Act provides common-sense steps we can take right now to put more people back to work and put more money in the pockets of working Americans, without adding a dime to the deficit," said Vilsack. "In Pennsylvania, this Act will provide a tax cut for over 230,000 Pennsylvania businesses, immediately put almost 14,400 Pennsylvania teachers and first responders back to work, and provide over Pennsylvania 17,900 construction workers a job improving highways and other critical infrastructure."

In Pittsburgh, Secretary Vilsack led a White House Business Council roundtable hosted by Point Park University. This roundtable is part of a series of meetings that are being held across the country to give senior Obama Administration officials an opportunity to hear directly from business leaders about their ideas on how to grow the economy. The roundtables are also intended to educate participants about USDA programs and other federal resources that help businesses, residents and communities.

The American Jobs Act was sent to Capitol Hill this week and the Obama Administration is calling on Congress to act on it immediately. The Act has five components that will create jobs and strengthen Pennsylvania's economy:

Tax Cuts to Help America's Small Businesses Hire and Grow

* The President's plan will cut the payroll tax in half to 3.1% for employers on the first $5 million in wages, providing broad tax relief to all businesses but targeting it to the 98 percent of firms with wages below this level. In Pennsylvania, 230,000 firms will receive a payroll tax cut under the American Jobs Act.

Putting Workers Back on the Job While Rebuilding and Modernizing America

* The President's plan includes $50 billion in immediate investments for highways, transit, rail and aviation, helping to modernize an infrastructure that now receives a grade of "D" from the American Society of Civil Engineers and putting hundreds of thousands of construction workers back on the job. Of the investments for highway and transit modernization projects, the President's plan will make immediate investments of at least $1,373,300,000 in Pennsylvania that could support a minimum of approximately 17,900 local jobs.
* The President is proposing to invest $35 billion to prevent layoffs of up to 280,000 teachers, while supporting the hiring of tens of thousands more and keeping cops and firefighters on the job. These funds would help states and localities avoid and reverse layoffs now, and will provide $1,155,300,000 in funds to Pennsylvania to support up to 14,400 educator and first responder jobs.
* The President is proposing a $25 billion investment in school infrastructure that will modernize at least 35,000 public schools -- investments that will create jobs, while improving classrooms and upgrading our schools to meet 21st century needs. Pennsylvania will receive $944,000,000 in funding to support as many as 12,300 jobs.
* The President is proposing to invest $15 billion in a national effort to put construction workers on the job rehabilitating and refurbishing hundreds of thousands of vacant and foreclosed homes and businesses. Pennsylvania could receive about $20,000,000 to revitalize and refurbish local communities, in addition to funds that would be available through a competitive application.
* The President's plan proposes $5 billion of investments for facilities modernization needs at community colleges. Investment in modernizing community colleges fills a key resource gap, and ensures these local, bedrock education institutions have the facilities and equipment to address current workforce demands in today's highly technical and growing fields. Pennsylvania could receive $113,200,000 in funding in the next fiscal year for its community colleges.

Pathways Back to Work for Americans Looking for Jobs.

* Drawing on the best ideas of both parties and the most innovative states, the President is proposing the most sweeping reforms to the unemployment insurance (UI) system in 40 years help those without jobs transition to the workplace. This could help put the 211,000 long-term unemployed workers in Pennsylvania back to work.
* Alongside these reforms, the President is reiterating his call to extend unemployment insurance, preventing 97,500 people looking for work in Pennsylvania from losing their benefits in just the first 6 weeks. And, across the country, the number saved from losing benefits would triple by the end of the year.
* The President is proposing a new Pathways Back to Work Fund to provide hundreds of thousands of low-income youth and adults with opportunities to work and to achieve needed training in growth industries. Pathways Back to Work could place 4,700 adults and 16,000 youths in jobs in Pennsylvania.

Tax Relief for Every American Worker and Family

* The President's plan will expand the payroll tax cut passed last December by cutting workers payroll taxes in half next year. A typical household in Pennsylvania, with a median income of around $48,000, will receive a tax cut of around $1,490.

Fully Paid for as Part of the President's Long-Term Deficit Reduction Plan.

* To ensure that the American Jobs Act is fully paid for, the President will call on the Joint Committee to come up with additional deficit reduction necessary to pay for the Act and still meet its deficit target. The President will, in the coming days, release a detailed plan that will show how we can do that while achieving the additional deficit reduction necessary to meet the President's broader goal of stabilizing our debt as a share of the economy.

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