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Senate Jobs Bill Focused on Transportation, Small Business

The latest version of a federal jobs bill includes a $20 billion boost to the Highway Trust Fund and an additional $2 billion in bonds for infrastructure, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, said Thursday, Feb. 11.

Reid announced that the Senate was scaling back from a larger jobs plan but said other jobs bills could follow.

The latest version contains the Trust Fund provision; tax credits for employers that hire new workers; equipment write-offs for businesses; and $2 billion in “Build America Bonds” for large infrastructure projects.

The tax credits for employers consist of exemptions from Social Security taxes and a possible $1,000 to the employer per new employee hired in 2010.

Under the legislation, businesses would be able to write off a wider variety of equipment purchases as business expenses.

The Build America Bonds program was launched as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. These bonds help states and local governments borrow money for infrastructure at low interest.

Build America Bond money can be spent on “public buildings, courthouses, schools, roads, transportation infrastructure, government hospitals, public safety facilities and equipment, water and sewer projects, environmental projects, energy projects, governmental housing projects and public utilities,” according to ARRA documents.

The slimmed-down version of the Senate jobs bill leaves out provisions from previous drafts, including Medicare payments, unemployment assistance and farm aid, which Reid said will have to wait for separate legislation.

The Senate will begin debating the jobs bill once Capitol Hill returns to normal after the recent record snowfall.

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