Lawmakers are more focused on job creation in this legislative session, but jobs bills still get high-centered on ideological speed bumps.
The Democrats this year offered a six-part plan that’s a shade better than their past packages. They would spend $63 million in capital outlay on infrastructure repairs and improvements, pass a modest minimum wage increase, increase broadband access, allow industrial hemp research, and try to open economic development incentives to home-grown businesses.
Of the bunch, only broadband would be a home run.
This year’s capital outlay has already seen partisan wrangling. A Republican lawmaker proposed giving up capital outlay to help stanch red ink, an interesting idea considering the problems with our capital outlay process. Democrats refused, and the governor bashed them for refusing.
Capital outlay is a different creature in the rural areas. While the cities might forego their public works money for a year, smaller communities rely on it for needed projects. And the spending is a form of stimulus. Just ask the state’s construction companies.
A minimum wage increase isn’t economic development, but it needs to happen. Our current rate is $7.50, and lots of states are higher.