Help wanted: Hawaii job-makers

President Calvin Coolidge once said, “The chief business of the American people is business.”

How can we encourage job creation? Here are a few ideas:

Promote entrepreneurship. No one is guaranteed a job, and not everyone wants to work for someone else. We need to encourage entrepreneurship. We could create entrepreneurship seminars and invite guest speakers to schools. We could ask companies and non-profits to offer internships in which students shadow the CEO, instead of answer the phones. We could work with schools to create a Student Innovation Expo, with student crafters and chefs; the best ideas could be highlighted in short “infomercials” on local TV stations and people could vote on ideas, make suggestions, and buy the products.

A payroll tax holiday. Reduce or eliminate the state payroll tax (income tax withholding) for 1 year. The money that companies save could be used to grow the business, hire more employees, or off-set higher wages and health insurance.

New hire tax credits. Give employers a tax credit for each new part-time or full-time employee hired for at least 9 months in Hawaii, especially if they were previously receiving unemployment benefits. This immediately encourages businesses to hire and reduces unemployment payments. Governor Linda Lingle has already suggested this, stating “The income tax credit proposal grants credits equal to the wages withheld by the employer for each new, full-time permanent position filled by a resident who is currently receiving unemployment benefits” (Hawaii “State of the State” address 1/25/10).

Tax-deductible health insurance premiums and medical costs. Right now, the IRS only lets you deduct medical expenses if they are more than 7.5% of your income. Making all medical expenses (health insurance premiums, unreimbursed co-pays, and out-of-pocket medical costs) 100% tax-deductible would help everyone, regardless of whether they have health insurance.

If it were easy to create jobs, we would already be doing it, right? But these suggestions don’t cost a lot of money (unless you count the tax revenue the government wouldn’t collect).

We don’t need an artificial stimulus bill. We need to grow our economy to the point where it can support higher employment. How else can we help people launch or grow their business?

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