Issue Position: Jobs
Restoring job growth, restoring economic growth, and empowering more Americans to achieve their unique version of the American Dream is the #1 focus of my campaign.
Colorado has one of the most diverse economies in the country; and we have learned a lot from the boom and bust era of previous generations. Colorado now boasts economic clusters in aerospace, information technology, financial services, renewable and traditional energy, agricultural, tourism and many other sectors.
For example, Colorado ranks first in small business loan activity, second in both high tech business concentration and research and development activity, third in entrepreneurship and fifth in science, technology, engineering and mathematics jobs concentration.
But much more needs to be done. One way to grow our economy is to focus on developing our economic strengths. Colorado is the second sunniest and 11th windiest state in the nation. We also have tremendous natural gas reserves on the western slope of Colorado.
My vision is to make Colorado the Renewable Energy Capital of the Country by providing incentives to solar, wind, geothermal, bio-fuels and related industries so that private sector companies can create more good paying jobs. Today, there are over 5,000 private sector renewable energy companies in Colorado. Approximately 10 years ago, there were only 150 renewable energy companies. In five years, let's triple the number. Many local economic development experts think Colorado's unemployment rate would be two points higher if it was not for the growth of the renewable energy sector during the past decade.
That is why I focused on passing the first Property Assessment Clean Energy (PACE) statewide program in the nation in 2010. With PACE, approximately 50,000 Colorado homeowners can voluntarily join a special improvement district, collectively bond on the market using their home as collateral, qualify for up to $25,000 to install solar or wind or energy efficiency improvements on their home and then pay the loan off over 20 years at a fixed rate of approximately 5% through an annual property tax assessment. The benefits include the creation of 3,000 -- 5,000 small business jobs over five years, increased long-term, property value of approximately 8 -- 10% and reduced energy bills for homeowners.
Additionally, investing in Colorado's natural gas resources can reduce dependence on foreign oil. That is why I supported incentives for natural gas vehicles and converting Colorado's major coal plants to natural gas powered plants by 2018. These initiatives both create jobs and create healthier communities.
Another idea is to encourage our research universities to be job incubators as well as places of higher learning. We should focus on supporting Technology Transfer departments at our colleges and universities so they create more small businesses. These departments help young companies grow and connect venture capital investors with entrepreneurs. It's a win-win situation.
In the Colorado State House, I voted for legislation to provide targeted tax cuts to businesses and to pay, short term, for half of their Social Security and payroll taxes if they create good paying jobs in Colorado. The incentive has encouraged companies to relocate to Colorado. I also supported legislation to streamline the tax system and lower administrative costs for companies.
Many families are struggling to make ends meet. We need to do a better job of providing pathways for more Coloradoans to enter the workforce through professions such as health care, construction and manufacturing. We need to create more job training programs in partnership with community colleges so more Coloradoans are equipped to re-enter the workforce.
We also need to do a better job of using tax credits to encourage job growth. Tax credits can be helpful, but a new business cannot always take advantage of the tax credit. Instead, the new business needs cash to expand their business, hire employees and perform other mission critical services. We should allow tax credits to be used as a cash equivalent for start-up companies if they create jobs or expand local businesses (Multiple sources).
This worked in the high-powered batteries market. For example, in January, 2009, the U.S. had approximately 2% of the world market. By the end of 2010, the U.S. had approximately 20% of the market, with around 30 new battery plants being constructed. The cash incentive policy helped increase the U.S.'s market share. The federal government should apply this policy to other manufacturing and renewable energy industries and help create good paying private sector jobs (Multiple sources).
In Colorado, I supported an idea that helped small businesses access much needed capital. We placed $5 million dollars in a fund to help private banks loan $50 million dollars of loans to 500 small business owners. The business owners created jobs. The $5 million dollars was not spent. Rather, it was in a fund to help banks make more secure loans.
Did you know that there are thousands of jobs that go unfilled because businesses lack qualified applicants? One idea is to allow the states to pay for businesses to train potential employees themselves after job vacancies go unfilled for many months. During the short-term, training period, the companies would not pay social security taxes or employer benefits. Filling these positions will speed up the economic recovery (Multiple sources).
We also need to simplify the tax code so corporations have less loopholes to use to avoid paying taxes. By lowering the corporate tax rate and closing loopholes, more companies would pay their fair share of taxes (Multiple sources).
Our country needs to enforce its trade laws with other nations. During the last 10 years, our country's enforcement was not as effective because our trade partners, such as China, became our debtors. It is more difficult to enforce trade agreements when other countries have financial leverage over us (Multiple sources).
We need to streamline Small Business Administration regulations to allow for more loans to entrepreneurs and incentivize banks to provide more qualified loans in a timely manner. Speeding up the approval of Small Business Administration process helps small business owners grow (Competitiveness Council).
We also need to improve Freddie Mac's Short Sale Guidelines to stimulate home sales and to help distressed home owners. Currently, strict guidelines prevent the success of a short sale transaction. I will focus on improving this process so more families can own a home and improve the property value in the neighborhood.
Additionally, we need to streamline the environmental, construction review process. This process can take years and reduce job growth.