By Judy Sanderson, NENA Director
Director, Vocational Services
Granite State Independent Living
NENA is receiving regular updates from Paul Suplizio, Chairman of the WOTC Coalition on the status of Work Opportunity Tax Credit in the House and Senate tax bills. We want to be sure that our members are also updated on this and can therefore make the right decisions for their own agencies. The information from Paul is as following:
More than just a re-authorization of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is in focus since the tax bill passed by the House has a provision terminating WOTC on December 31, 2017 must be rejected by the conferees in favor of the Senate plan, which continues WOTC and reserves decisions on its future to an extenders bill in 2018 or 2019.
The Senate will now enter conference with the House to reconcile the differences between their two bills. A complete list of House and Senate Conferees is at www.waysandmeans.house.gov, click on “Brady Announces Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Conference Meeting
For those interested in taking some action the following information can be useful:
Ways and Means Chairman Brady is opposed to WOTC and can be expected to defend his bill terminating it. His Ways and Means colleagues, Devin Nunes and Peter Roskam, will support Brady. We’re not sure the three recall that the VOW to Hire Heroes Act hiring credits, which they voted for in 2011, are part of WOTC, which HR 1 repeals, with the result that the nation’s newest veterans returning from combat zones will be deprived of job opportunities that increased veterans employment 700 percent when first enacted.
Veteran’s organizations may want to suggest to Messrs. Brady, Nunes, and Roskam whether their admirable work in passing the VOW To Hire Heroes Act should now be capped by repealing the primary and most cost-effective job placement tool the government has for helping newly-discharged veterans enter the workforce, as well as helping homeless veterans struggling with readjustment issues. As a model letter, veterans can use The Military Coalition’s excellent letter of April 26, 2017, forwarded earlier (write if you need a copy).
The conference committee needs to hear from WOTC supporters about WOTC’s role in job creation for the poor and homeless, about the fact that 80 percent of single-parent female-headed households in poverty and their children live in frequent hunger, about the readjustment difficulties of newly-discharged disabled and non-disabled combat veterans transitioning to civilian life, and about people with disabilities who treasure a chance to work but still face formidable barriers.
The Census Bureau says 69 percent of those in the bottom fifth of the workforce, including the majority of single-parent, female-headed households, are locked into income of $23,000 or less year after year and they and their children will repeat the cycle of poverty and perpetuate an underclass of citizens unless they are given a better chance for a job. For people at the bottom, WOTC is the main lifeline to a regular job, and with the federal investment capped at $1,560 per hire for most workers, WOTC has achieved a scale equal to the magnitude of the challenge—1.6 million jobs a year—as well as high cost-effectiveness.
Congressman Walden is chair of Energy and Commerce, which is the House committee that deals with people with disabilities. Congressman Shimkus is a high-ranking member of the Health Subcommittee that focuses on people with disabilities. We ask disability organizations—via phone calls, visits, and faxes—to drive home to these two members and Brady, Black, and Noem, that WOTC is the most cost-effective tool available to disability advocates to help people with disabilities find work in the private sector, including each year’s cohort of 250,000 “special needs” students entering the workforce.
Here are some sample statements that can be used as appropriate:
- “I’d like to request your support for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC). WOTC is a vital tool for jobs and income mobility, helping veterans and people on public assistance escape unemployment and poverty and move up the economic ladder. As 69 percent of the bottom fifth of adult workers, including the large majority of single-parent, female-headed households, are locked into an income of $23,000 or less year after year, they and their children will repeat the cycle of poverty and perpetuate an underclass of citizens unless they are given a better chance for a job. Large pockets of poverty afflict cities and counties nationwide and local officials are using WOTC as a job placement tool for their homeless veterans, poor, and unemployed.”
- Cities should take note that Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), a member of the Finance Committee, was able to persuade the Senate to include in HR 1 his bill authorizing governors to establish “opportunity zones” in poor areas to boost economic development through investment incentives to private capital. This provision isn’t in the House bill, and Senator Scott will likely be fighting from sidelines of the conference to retain it, but it’s important he succeed now that Empowerment Zones have expired, and New Markets Tax Credit have been slated for expiration in the House bill. Some cities supporting Opportunity Zones have already contacted Senator Scott urging him to support WOTC eligibility for Zone workers, not only because the need for anti-poverty assistance is acute, but also because the WOTC credit boosts the economy immediately as employers save money with each new hire, whereas it may take years for capital investments to bear fruit.