In a phone interview, Sen. Andy Berke agreed [with Governor Bill Haslam [that lawmakers should focus on job creation].
"The number one issue in Tennessee right now is jobs," Berke said. "We're at 9.8 percent unemployment across the state, and we've got to push for answers. We'll continue to talk through the various issues we heard about today, so that we can renew a focus for the next legislative session."
Berke also mentioned the idea of an entrepreneur tax credit—a bill he introduced earlier this year—as an approach to encouraging economic development.
"People are hurting, and we've got to fund ways to move away from the distractions you see too often in the legislature and focus on our most important initiative, which is economic development," he said.
So, we're going to give "microbusiness" breaks so that they have more money and we can hope that they create jobs that will sustain employee's livelihoods. It does not seem to matter what quality of jobs they create as long as even a minimal degree of economic development occurs. At most the expressed expectation is that the bill will help generate at least one new employee at unstipulated compensation at each microbusiness that qualifies.
But the bill also seems to have a loophole: microbusinesses have a choice between creating a new job or two or generating a new investment or two. Investments include items like purchasing buildings, paying legal fees, and advertising and PR. In fact, no new jobs have to be created at all for microbusinesses to get the tax break. But it looks like the Democratic Senator is at best hoping that incentives gained through creating some TV spots or paying for lawyers will encourage owners to create jobs for Tennesseans.
All in all this bill disappointingly appears to be GOP-lite: give more breaks to industry framed with wishful thinking or unmerited faith that owners will hire more people to jobs that may or may not be sustainable. Sen. Berke's bill is good for the small business owner, but not necessarily good for the little guy (without respect to gender). I understand that Democrats in a red-state have to take what they can get, but let's stop pretending that this bill is about jobs. Jobs may or may not happen in trickle-down scenarios. When owners are given money back they do not necessarily generate jobs with it.
In the meantime, working class people need jobs that help them pay the cost of living. They also need jobs with salaries that help them pay for childcare so that they can go to work. They need security in this insecure market; the kind of security that Democrats strove to achieve after the Great Depression last century. Today's Democrats fail to address those security needs because they are focused exclusively on untrammeled economic development as the ultimate elixir, just as Republicans are.