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Schwarzenegger Offers $500 M Calif. Jobs Program

Wednesday, 06 Jan 2010 01:55 PM

SACRAMENTO, California - California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will propose spending $500 million in worker training under a plan to stimulate the state's sagging economy and create 100,000 jobs, his spokesman said on Wednesday.

The $500 million would initially come from a surplus that exists in a state disability insurance fund, "so we are going to borrow from that fund," Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear told Reuters.

Schwarzenegger's jobs plan is part of a five-point package, first reported by the Los Angeles Times, that also includes tax credits for first-time home buyers and lower sales taxes for green technology, McLear said.

The economic package, which Schwarzenegger sees as a centerpiece of his agenda heading into his final year in office, would be rounded out by measures to limit lawsuits against businesses and make it harder for environmental regulations to block big construction projects.

Schwarzenegger planned to publicly unveil his stimulus proposals later on Wednesday during his last state-of-the-state address to California's Democrat-led Legislature.

The unemployment rate in California, which ranks as the world's eighth-largest economy, currently hovers above 12 percent, significantly above the national average. And the governor has come under mounting pressure to close a $21 billion budget shortfall while fundamentally altering how the state is managed.

Under Schwarzenegger's jobs plan, $200 million 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 Times.

The governor will propose an additional $300 million to pay employers $3,000 for every person who, after receiving unemployment benefits, is training in a job and stays in it for nine months.

The proposals are designed to give new skills to 140,000 workers and lead to 100,000 jobs. More than 2.2 million Californians are currently unemployed.

The $200 million he plans to propose for tax credits to first-time homebuyers would be in addition to the $100 million the legislature approved last year but that has already run out.

Legislative approval of Schwarzenegger's stimulus plans is far from certain, with his proposals to relax environmental regulations for certain development projects and curb class-action lawsuits expected to draw fire from Democrats.

© 2015 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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