By Michael Shuster, Capital News Service
A bill that would have given Virginia small businesses a $2,500 tax credit for hiring the state's public university graduates was tabled by House subcommittee members who said the offer should also apply to graduates of Virginia's private institutions.
House Bill 1303, introduced by Del. Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria), would have created an incentive system for small businesses that hired people holding an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from a public institution of higher education in Virginia, giving a $2,500 corporate income tax credit for each new full-time position created and filled after Jan. 1 of this year. Businesses could have claimed the credit after the graduate had been employed for at least a year.
But the bill did not cover private colleges and universities in Virginia — which house finance subcommittee No. 3 members cited as the main reason for tabling the bill. On a voice vote of 5-0 on Friday, the subcommittee suggested the bill be revised to provide tax credits for hiring graduates from private as well as public colleges.
Herring argued the financial ceiling set in the bill did not make it realistic to provide tax credits for hiring graduates from private institutions.
“I thought there was a more natural nexus for public universities, and with the money accessible, it’s not an effective tool in encouraging small businesses to hire all students who graduate from a college or university in Virginia,” she said.
In her eyes, small businesses are the cornerstone for moving graduates from the classroom to the real world, she said.
“Small businesses account for more than 47 percent of employment to recent graduates, and it’s very important to provide tax incentives to encourage the hiring of our recent Virginia graduates,” Herring said, noting 53.6 percent of higher education graduates are unable to find a job after graduation.
Prince William Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Robert Clapper II said the group wasn't actively engaged on this particular issue, but its supportve of incentives encouraging Virginia businesses to create new jobs and grow the local economy.
"It's in everyone's best interest to continually look at ways to keep our workforce pipeline filled," he said.
The bill set a cap of $2 million for the tax credits. The tax credit program would have automatically expired in 2015.
Alex Henery, a student representative from Radford University, said Friday he thought the measure would "help minimize the unemployment rates we’re seeing right now."
Del. Joseph Johnson (D-Abingdon) noted some parents are suing colleges and universities because their children could not find employment upon graduation.
For example, Trina Thompson, a 27-year -old New York graduate, and her parents are suing Monroe College in the Bronx for the $70,000 she spent on tuition because she has been unable to find a full-time job.
“There have been numerous class-action lawsuits brought on by parents whose kids have been unable to find jobs after school,” Johnson said. “Students majoring in visual arts, history, performing arts and English, to name a few, are finding it extremely difficult to find jobs. It’s becoming a new trend here in the commonwealth and throughout the nation.”