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Senate Democrats offer veterans jobs bill, without millionaire's surtax

From Kate Bolduan
updated 8:30 PM EDT, Fri November 4, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Senate Democrats eliminate controversial millionaire's surtax from jobs bill
  • Republicans opposed the surtax
  • The jobs measure would offer tax incentives to firms hiring veterans
  • The bill would also provide job training to everyone leaving the military

Washington (CNN) -- Senate Democrats proposed Friday tax incentives for businesses hiring veterans as well as job training for all service members leaving the military.

The measure was unveiled as the next piece in President Obama's jobs bill and as a remedy to unemployment among veterans.

"It would basically make sure that our veterans are not standing at the back of any unemployment line," Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) told reporters. "It's important that we support our troops not just by lip-service but by action, and we intend to act next week."

Noticeable absent from Friday's Democratic proposal is the job bill's controversial millionaire's surtax, which would increases taxes on those with incomes of more than $1 million.

Republicans have roundly rejected the surtax, saying it would hurt small businesses and stunt economic growth.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington), chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, told reporters they would utilize "existing pay-fors," or revenue streams, that have been used to fund veterans' issues.

"What we did is bring together Republican and Democrat, House and Senate, congressional and administration ideas in putting this package forward. I think it uses the best of everyone's ideas and will make a real difference for veterans," said Murray. "Veterans are not a partisan issue. They are something we can all get behind."

A major component of the bill would offer tax credits to companies hiring jobless veterans -- up to $2,400 in credits for hiring veterans out of work for more than 4 weeks, up to $5,600 for hiring veterans out of work for more than six months, and up to $9,600 credit for employing veterans with service-connected disabilities looking for work for more than six months.

The bill would also make mandatory jobs skills training for every service member moving into civilian life and also offer older veterans additional Montgomery GI benefits for training programs at community colleges and technical schools.

"It is quite frankly shameful that veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have a higher unemployment rate than the rest of America," said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana).

A cost estimate for the bill was not immediately available. Murray said Democrats plan to attach the veterans' measure as an amendment to House-passed bill that eliminates the 3% withholding requirement for government contractors -- a bill that House and Senate Republicans say would create jobs.

While Senate Republican aides indicated the veterans' assistance proposal and the absence of the millionaire's surtax were encouraging, they were cautious and said they would need to see the proposal's details, including how it would be funded.

CNN's Michael Martinez contributed to this report.

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