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Begich Supports Passage of Jobs Bill

Legislation gives tax cuts to small business, invests in transportation

Focusing on the priority of creating jobs for Alaskans and bolstering the economy, U.S. Sen. Mark Begichjoined bi-partisan support March 17 for legislation designed to help small businesses expand and hire workers and jump start infrastructure projects, including many in Alaska. The Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act heads to the president's desk following a Senate vote of 68 - 29.

"This bill will offer another shot in the arm for our economy, giving tax breaks to small businesses so they can hire more workers, and investing in our infrastructure which keeps goods and services moving as well as creating jobs," Begich said. "This is a jobs bill that will improve our state, make our communities safer and put Alaskans to work."

The $18 billion HIRE Act already passed the Senate last month, the House changed it slightly and it had to come back to the Senate for another vote before going to the president. The bill includes four key items including:

·         A new program giving companies a break from paying Social Security taxes for the rest of the year on any workers hired who have been unemployed for 60 days. It includes an additional $1,000 tax credit for each of those workers who stay on the job for one full year;

·          Help small businesses expand by allowing a write-off of up to $250,000 in one year for certain new equipment purchases rather than waiting several years to recover costs through depreciation deductions;

·         An extension through the end of 2010 on transportation funding for states including an additional $54 million for transportation projects in Alaska that could be used this construction season;

·         Expansion of the Build America Bonds Program to allow state and local governments to finance more infrastructure projects through a lower interest rate. Under the Recovery Act passed last year, approximately $69 billion in these bonds were issued in 2009, including for projects in Anchorage and the North Star Borough.

Following passage of the bill, the Executive Director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, John Horsley, released a statement thanking Congress.

"These changes will ensure continuity of the federal-aid highway and transit programs, and enable states to accelerate contract lettings for the upcoming summer construction season," Horsley said. "This also means that Congress can now turn its attention to work on enactment of a comprehensive, multi-year reauthorization measure for the federal-aid surface transportation program."

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