Schwarzenegger vows to create more jobs

11:10, January 07, 2010      

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California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said on Wednesday that job creation would be one of the top priorities for his administration in the new year.

In his annual State of the State address before a joint session of the California legislature, the governor made it clear that his number one priority in 2010 is fostering a business-friendly economy and creating jobs.

He announced the California Jobs Initiative designed to create jobs and ensure that California is a better partner to the economy.

"Creating jobs and getting our economy back on track, protecting education, reforming our tax and pension systems and putting an end to our boom and bust budget cycle must all be priorities," said Schwarzenegger.

The California Jobs Initiative will pump jobs into California by creating or retaining up to 100,000 jobs and providing training to 140,000 individuals to enable them to retain their current positions or compete for higher paying jobs.

Schwarzenegger's job-creating plan will cost 500 million dollars, which would initially come from a surplus that exists in a state disability insurance fund, the governor's spokesman Aaron McLear said.

The unemployment rate in California, which ranks as the world's eighth-largest economy, currently hovers above 12 percent, significantly above the national average.

Under Schwarzenegger's jobs plan, 200 million dollars over 18 months would go to employers or employee associations to train workers, at a cost of about 1,400 per individual, according to the Los Angeles Times, which first reported Schwarzenegger's jobs plan days ago.

The plan is part of a five-point package, which also includes tax credits for first-time home buyers and lower sales taxes for green technology.

Schwarzenegger also announced Operation Welcome Home, a program to ensure that returning veterans are provided access to the services and opportunities they deserve.

The governor reflected on the teamwork that brought California through the worst recession since the Great Depression in 2009.

"This coming year can be summarized in one word: priorities. Aswe face another round of fiscal challenges, we must get our priorities straight and keep them straight. I know that if we can recreate the teamwork we built last year and focus together on these priorities, California, already seeing clear signs of recovery, will emerge from these difficult times stronger and more vibrant than ever."

In addition, the governor announced a historic shift in California's priorities by proposing a constitutional amendment to ensure that the state never again spends a greater percentage of funds on prisons than on higher education.

He pledged he would work to protect California's schools and to shield higher education from further cuts. The governor called on the legislature to help him make California's education system a higher priority than prisons.

Under the governor's initiative, no less than ten percent of the General Fund dollars would be allocated to fund public institutions of higher education and no more than seven percent would be allocated to support the state prison system. These mandatory limits would begin in the 2014-15 fiscal year.

The governor said the amendment will include a provision that allows the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation the authority to contract with private entities -- while retaining all authority -- to build or operate prisons and manage or transfer inmates. This would save the state billions of dollars per year.

In 2009, California's economic growth declined 2.8 percent, but the state's tax revenues were down more than 8 times that much -- reinforcing the fact that the budget woes are self-inflicted wounds, the governor said.

Source: Xinhua
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