In an address to a joint session of Congress last week, President Obama outlined a new proposal to create jobs and repeatedly urged Congress to pass the legislation quickly. This bill, the American Jobs Act, would provide approximately $447 billion in tax cuts and new spending, all targeted towards revitalizing the economy and creating jobs. For local parks and recreation agencies, there are several elements of this proposal that should be of particular interest.
New Employment Incentives
One of the new programs included in the Jobs Act is a “Pathways Back to Work” initiative that would establish a $5 billion fund at the Department of Labor to support subsidized employment for low-income youth and unemployed adults. A total of $1.5 billion would be made available to subsidize summer jobs and year-round employment for low-income youth, $2 billion for the employment of unemployed, low-income adults and $1.5 billion for work-based training of either low-income unemployed adults or low-income youths. Since this funding will be distributed first through States, and then through local Workforce Investment Boards (local WIBs), local parks and recreational agencies will need to work in partnership with their local WIBs to access these grants. In addition, although local government agencies are ineligible for many of the tax incentives proposed in the legislation, including a temporary payroll tax cut and a new tax credit that rewards organizations who increase their overall payroll costs, nonprofit organizations are eligible for these incentives and may be willing to partner with local agencies to take advantage of these new incentives.
The Jobs Act also would also provide significant investments in transportation projects that could be utilized to enhance local open space and provide access to non-vehicular modes of transportation. A total of $27 billion is included in the bill for highway, bridge and rail projects, 3% of which is reserved for Transportation Enhancement projects such as pedestrian and bicycle facilities, historic preservation efforts and landscaping/streetscaping initiatives. Furthermore, the legislation would provide an additional $5 billion for the TIGER discretionary grant program, three times more than this program received from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The TIGER program is especially popular among localities because it provides competitive grants directly to local governments for a wide variety of transportation projects, including bike and pedestrian networks or greenways.
Learn more about the other initiatives included in the American Jobs Act.
What federal actions do you think would be most effective at spurring job growth and economic investment?
The Ferguson Group