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American Jobs Act may create unfunded burden on state

By ThisIsReno

By Nevada News Bureau Staff: When he visits Las Vegas on Oct. 24, President Barack Obama will continue his nationwide tour urging Congress to pass the Americans Jobs Act, his $450 billion plan to create jobs and stimulate the economy.

“Pass this jobs bill, and there will be funding to save the jobs of up to 13,000 North Carolina teachers, cops, and firefighters,” Obama said earlier this month to thousands of supporters at North Carolina State University.

The president has not, however, shared with voters that his jobs bill as presented would fund many of the proposed jobs for only one year, nor has he explained his plan for how the jobs would be paid for once federal funds run out.

A recent White House press release on the impact of the American Jobs Act in Nevada said the measure would help Nevada localities avoid and reverse layoffs, through an influx of $258.3 million to support up to 3,600 educator and first responder (police and firefighter) jobs.

Dividing the $258.3 million in federal funding proposed for Nevada by 3,600 jobs yields $71,750 to cover salary, benefits, and other costs associated with providing each position. Based on average teacher or first responder pay and benefits in the state, it is likely that funding from the jobs bill would, on average, cover no more than one year of total compensation.

For example, teacher salaries before benefits in Clark County School District range from $34,688 to $69,272. After benefits are added in, teacher pay packages range from $50,267 to $93,785, the median being $72,026.

Sections 204-209 of the bill as proposed include provisions requiring states to “meet the requirements” of the measure for an additional two years.

A White House spokeswoman has said the bill includes no unfunded mandates but unless Nevada picks up the funding for these positions after the first year or so, it is unclear how the teachers and first responders supported by it would be paid going forward.

Should the state’s economy improve significantly, revenue would flow into the state coffers and enable a continuation of funding. However, recent economic reports and projections make the prospect of significantly increased state funds seem unlikely at present.

Another issue is that the traditional school year has begun, local school districts have hired teachers, and classes are under way. Even if the bill became law quickly, it is unclear how Nevada government agencies could accept and process the federal money and achieve the president’s job goals during the current school year.

The nation

Obama’s American Jobs Act includes $35 billion for state and local government employees: $30 billion to hire or preserve the jobs of public school teachers, and $5 billion for police officers, firefighters, and other first responders.

In the White House analysis for each state, the categories are combined. One-seventh, or 14 percent, of the money covers first responders.

An analysis of the planned allotment and estimated jobs from each state yields a nationwide average cost per job of $74,757.

Background information provided by the White House on the American Jobs Act bases the distribution of funds to each state primarily on population. The job estimates rely on public sector labor costs obtained from each state.

(For an Excel spreadsheet with the state-by-state breakdown, click here.)

An analysis places Nevada 22nd among the states in cost per job.

At the extreme ends of the rankings, South Dakota would receive the least money per job and New York the most.

South Dakota would get $77.6 million for an estimated 1,600 jobs, or $48,500 per job. New York, by contrast, would receive $1.77 billion for an estimated 18,000 jobs, or $98,322 per job.

California ranks second to New York with $3.6 billion for an estimated 37,300 jobs, $97,086 per job