Haslam on Jobs: Reassuring, Cheerleading… and Politicking?

Gov. Bill Haslam has been traveling the state with the dual role of “part cheerleader and part reassuring family member,” reports Jeff Woods in an update on the administration’s efforts to enhance economic development. The article gets into both statistics and the politics involved.
Since Haslam took office in January, about 9,500 new jobs have been created in Tennessee, either through the expansion of existing businesses or via new companies locating in the state, according to figures the state Department of Economic and Community Development provided to The City Paper.
But the unemployment rate remains at a stubborn 9.8 percent statewide… To the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, companies have reported laying off 6,886 workers in the past six months, with the biggest loss coming with the shutdown of Union City’s Goodyear Tire and Rubber plant, where 1,900 were furloughed. And those are just some of the layoffs. (Note: Reports, I think are required only when 50 or more layoffs are involved.)
All states face these new fiscal constraints, and many are in worse shape than Tennessee. Without the money to attract new businesses in traditional ways like public spending on infrastructure improvements, state governments have dreamed up a slew of ideas to help.
Among the new programs from a summary by the National Conference of State Legislatures:
• Alabama established a mortgage guarantee fund with $6 million from state oil and gas royalties. Trying to boost the state’s housing market, the fund will reimburse investors suffering foreclosure losses on loans. 
• Florida is loaning money — up to $250,000 at 2 percent interest — to small businesses to expand through capital purchases, worker training and new hires.
• Colorado is providing tax credits for job creation and encouraging private lending to small businesses. Public funding in the loan program is expected to leverage more than $50 million in private financing.
• Hawaii transferred money from environmental cleanup to economic development.
Haslam refused to even consider any such stimulus programs this year, insisting that the state can’t create jobs through legislation. That prompted Democrats to accuse Haslam of failing to do enough to help the economy.
Haslam dismisses the criticism as politically motivated, noting, “My response is really that I don’t think we can create jobs by legislative work or we would do that.” 
But House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley said it’s the Republicans who are playing politics, tossing Democratic ideas into the trash heap rather than giving their opponents credit for thinking outside the box. Democrats introduced a dozen bills, all of which died in committee
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