Colorado jobs tax break barely survives Senate vote |

Colorado jobs tax break barely survives Senate vote

DENVER (AP) – A proposed tax break for businesses that rehire laid-off workers barely survived a vote in the Senate on Monday.

The Senate voted 18-16 to back the bill and send it to the House after Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, changed her “no” vote to a “yes.”

Schwartz asked for a do-over and switched her vote when she realized the bill would die in a 17-17 tie otherwise. She said she favors tax credits that target specific industries important to her western Colorado district, such as timber, but said the bill was better than not passing any credits at all.

Three other Democrats voted with Republicans in opposing the measure, which was sponsored by two Democrats, Sens. Rollie Heath of Boulder and Chris Romer of Denver. They included Sen. Moe Keller, vice chairwoman of the Joint Budget Committee, who said the state couldn’t afford to lose the $3 million in tax revenue to pay for the credit. She also said businesses would rehire when they had enough work for workers and wouldn’t base their decision on a tax credit.

“A tax credit is not going to make the difference,” Keller said.

Under the bill, Senate Bill 133, the state would agree to pay up to two-thirds of the federal payroll tax for each worker.

Companies could only claim the credit for rehiring workers they laid off in 2009, and they would have to keep them on the job for at least a year to claim the credit in 2012.

Republicans opposed the tax credit, calling it a “fig leaf” to cover the economic damage done by a package of taxes on things like candy and soda, online taxes and industrial energy bills that Democrats sponsored to balance the budget.

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