Statement of Speaker William J. Howell Regarding Virginia’s Unemployment Rate Hitting a Three-Year Low

HouseGOP2012 General Assembly Session, Jobs & Economy

RICHMOND, VA – Following yesterday’s announcement that unemployment in the Commonwealth has dropped to a three-year low of 5.8 percent, Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) issued the following statement:

“Yesterday, federal employment data indicated that the unemployment rate in the Commonwealth dropped to 5.8 percent, the lowest rate since 2009.  This is a positive sign that Virginia is on a positive economic trajectory and yet another indication the job creation efforts of Governor McDonnell and Republicans in the General Assembly,” said Howell.

The February 2012 unemployment rate in Virginia stood at 5.8 percent, down from 6.2 percent in December 2011 and a peak of 7.2 percent in January 2010.  The drop in unemployment translates to over 50,000 fewer unemployment claims since the January 2010 peak according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  With a national unemployment rate of 8.3 percent, Virginia continues to outperform the nation as a whole in terms of job creation and retention.

“Job creation and economic development efforts have long been a priority of the House Republican Caucus.  We have had a great ally in Governor McDonnell pursuing various measures that attract business, encourage capital investment and reduce regulatory burdens that dampen economic vitality,” continued Howell.  “We could not be more pleased to see that our efforts have made a demonstrable difference to the economic well being of our business community and the prosperity of families across the Commonwealth.”

Included below are selected job creation and economic development bills sponsored by the House Republican Caucus during the 2012 General Assembly Session.

 2012 Legislative Accomplishments

  • FY 2012-14 House Budget – HB 30 (Putney)
    • Includes $11.8 million in funding for the Governor’s Opportunity Fund, in turn creating jobs and stimulating economic innovation
    • Includes $4 million in manufacturing-based development programs to ensure that Virginia is a leader in the American Manufacturing renaissance
    • Includes $15 million for research and development efforts critical to the high-tech economy of Northern Virginia
  • Fair Competition in Government Contracting – HB 33 (Comstock) & SB 242 (Obenshain)
    • Encourage competitive bidding on transportation and infrastructure projects to make the most of taxpayer dollars
    • Guarantees that free enterprise and full and open competition will determine how public construction contracts are awarded
    • Ensures neutrality and provides that the 96 percent of the Virginia private construction workforce who are non-unionized have a fair opportunity to compete for projects funded with our tax dollars
  • Major Business Facility Jobs Tax Credit – HB 714 (Kilgore) & SB 368 (Reeves)
    • Extends the acceleration of the Major Business Facility Jobs Tax Credit, which incentivizes large businesses in all sectors to bring jobs into the Commonwealth
    • Encourages hiring of Virginians in a variety of sectors through business-friendly tax credits for each new, full-time, in-state hire
    • Stimulates business, particularly in economically distressed areas of Virginia, so that we can put Virginians back to work, help our businesses grow and continue the economic recovery here in Virginia.
  • Renewable Energy Portfolio Incentives – HB 1102 (Miller)
    • Promotes research and development activity in Virginia by exploring and incentivizing job-creating domestic energy alternatives
    • Feeding the innovative engines in Northern Virginia will solidify our position as a national high-tech leader.
  • Extension of Capital Gains Tax Exemption – HB 1013 (Comstock) & SB 226 (Herring)
    • Extends the current capital gains tax exemption for start ups
    • Allows our job creators to expand investment in science and technology by exempting investment in business start ups from capital gains taxes
    • This exemption encourages investors to risk their capital on Virginia’s entrepreneurs and create more good paying high tech jobs
  • Extension of Telework Expenses Tax Credit – HB 551 (Comstock) & SB 238 (Herring)
    • Extends the telework tax credit for employers through the end of calendar year 2015
    • Promotes non-traditional work arrangements particularly important in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads
  •  Small Business Investment Tax Credit – HB 585 (Merricks) & SB 344 (McDougle)
    • Creates an incentive program to encourage investment in Virginia’s small businesses
    • Promotes and encourages entrepreneurship for the small, local businesses that make up the backbone of Virginia’s economy
  • Agriculture & Forestry Development Fund – HB 766 (Landes) & SB 128 (Stanley)
    • Supports Virginia’s farming and forestry businesses by offering grants and loans to attract processing facilities that utilize Virginia-grown products
    • Virginia’s agricultural and forestry sector remains the single largest driver of our economy
    • Encourages domestic processing of Virginia’s agricultural resources, increasing economic utility and creating jobs – particularly in rural areas of the Commonwealth
  • Virginia Energy Plan – HB 1177 (Watson)
    • Encourages domestic, Virginia-based energy production  including natural gas, coal and wind-based alternatives
    • Embraces innovative, forward-looking solutions that will insulate the Commonwealth from potential volatility in the energy market while creating jobs here at home
  • Encouraged Development at the Virginia Port Authority – HB 1183 (Cosgrove)
    • Extends various tax credits intended to incentivize traffic at the Port of Virginia, critical to the vitality of the entire Hampton Roads region
    • Targeted investments in Virginia’s maritime and shipping industries will increase international trade and domestic shipping
  • Expanded Virginia Investment Partnership Eligibility – HB 243 (Cline) & SB 338 (Newman)
    • Encourages existing Virginia manufacturers and researchers to continue their investment in Virginia by adding production capacity, utilizing cutting-edge technology and modernizing assembly processes
    • Increasing the pool of businesses eligible for incentives will further stimulate economic development and job creation efforts across the Commonwealth
  • The Virginia Jobs Investment Program – HB 768 (Landes)
    • Creates a new Virginia Jobs Investment Plan to encourage creation of well-paid jobs,  administered by the Virginia Department of Business Assistance
    • Coordinating the training of Virginia’s workforce with the development of diverse, new employment opportunities throughout the Commonwealth will improve Virginia’s already exceptional business climate
  • Extension of Coalfield Employment Enhancement Tax Credit – HB 1192 (O’Quinn)
  • Extends this tax credit which incentivizes not only the mining of Virginia’s coal deposits but also creates and retains jobs in Virginia’s coal industry
  • Particularly in rural southwestern Virginia, we strive to help forge partnerships to will put Virginians to work while capitalizing on our natural resources
  • The coal industry has an incredible economic ripple effect all across Virginia, and ultimately leads to more affordable electricity for all Virginians