JEFF E. SCHAPIRO, STAFF WRITER
Published: March 24, 2009
Terry McAuliffe, a Democratic candidate for governor, says job creation shouldn't be a taxing experience for business.
Traveling yesterday to Danville, where unemployment is 16.8 percent, he outlined a pilot program under which the state would provide tax relief for firms that generate new jobs in ailing areas.
McAuliffe said Virginia should help such businesses pay their federal payroll taxes for hiring more workers or raising employees' salaries.
To qualify for the aid, he said employers must provide health insurance and carve out jobs in high-growth fields, including energy. The program could be expanded statewide as the economy improves.
"This would support job creation and higher wages for Virginia workers, and connect tax relief for businesses directly to the actual creation of more, higher-paying jobs in Virginia," McAuliffe said in a position paper.
He laid out his latest proposals during a visit to Danville, a tobacco-and-textile city hit hard by the collapse of manufacturing. He later held a conference call with reporters.
McAuliffe had little to say about a possible source of future jobs: a proposed uranium mine, west of Danville in rural Pittsylvania County.
McAuliffe said he would not take a position on the mine until a study is completed on whether the radioactive ore can be extracted without, among things, threatening water supplies.
He also declined to answer questions on whether he feared the study could be considered fair and objective if paid for by mine proponents.
McAuliffe said the next governor must help businesses find investment capital; encourage regional cooperation in economic development and expand support for small and start-up firms.
McAuliffe, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and a confidant of Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton, is incrementally announcing elements of what he calls a "Business Plan for Virginia."
McAuliffe started this month with an energy package, followed yesterday by the business-expansion plan. Four more proposals are expected.
McAuliffe is one of three candidates for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, which will be decided in a June 9 primary. His opponents are state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds of Bath County and former Del. Brian J. Moran of Alexandria.