The following is a quarterly status update on several federal policy areas that the CEO Council for Growth advocates for, including: highly-skilled immigration reform, transportation reauthorization, the Delaware River Main Channel Deepening Project, federal funding for research and the research and development tax credit.
Highly-Skilled Immigration Reform
As Congress endeavors to address multiple aspects of our immigration system, the CEO Council continues to call on Congress to adopt highly-skilled immigration reforms. Highly-educated workers help drive innovation, economic growth, and job creation, all of which are essential components for the region to remain competitive in the global economy. The CEO Council urges Members of Congress to support the following reforms:
- Establish a market-based H-1B cap and increase the employment-based green card cap;
- Exempt STEM graduates from U.S. universities from the annual employment-based visa cap if they have an offer of employment from a U.S. business in a related field;
- Streamline and improve visa and green card application process;
- Eliminate the employment-based per-country visa cap;
- Use new company-paid visa and green card fees to help fund STEM programs in U.S. schools to train the next generation American workforce; and
- Provide visas and green cards to startup entrepreneurs and advance science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) degree holders from U.S. universities.
These reforms have seen bipartisan support from Congress throughout the recent immigration debate. We ask our Congressional delegation to push these reforms in any immigration reform bill.
The CEO Council looks forward to working with our federal lawmakers to develop and enact a new, long-term, sustainable surface transportation reauthorization bill that will address the impending shortfall of the Highway Trust Fund and adequately fund the Mass Transit Account. Elected leaders should explore existing and new user-related revenue sources that will bring solvency back to the Highway Trust Fund.
The CEO Council has long supported a long-term surface transportation bill that would enable agencies and governments to plan for large-scale infrastructure projects. In keeping with our recommended policy principles, we urge enhanced flexibility for P3’s, expanded tolling capacity, and adequate dedicated funding for mass transit.
Delaware River Main Channel Deepening Project
We thank Members of our Congressional delegation for enactment of the $35 million FY15 appropriation for the Delaware River Main Channel Deepening Project. It will ensure continued work on this important project to secure the future economic health and vitality of the Delaware River maritime complex.
The CEO Council calls on our Congressional delegation to urge that Congress approves in the upcoming FY16 Energy and Water Appropriations bill the entire $62.5 million we believe the Army Corps of Engineers needs next year for continued deepening of the Delaware River Main Channel. In a recent letter to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, we advocated for adequate funding in the President’s FY16 Budget Request for the completion of this project, which is about 80% complete or under contract. The deepening project is moving forward and close to its expected completion in 2017, but its progress must continue if it is to achieve its intended economic potential.
Federal Funding for Research
The CEO Council will continue to actively advocate for increased research funding in the federal budget. Research in our region is leading to major breakthroughs in innovation, new technologies, life-saving medical treatments, and regional job growth. The federal government’s support and funding for research is key to advancing our economy and global competitiveness.
According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, last month’s appropriations bill afforded modest increases for research funding at the rate of inflation. However, as an “eds and meds” region rich in health related research, the CEO Council will advocate for funding levels for the National Institutes of Health that exceed the .05 percent increase to FY14 levels illustrated in the omnibus bill. We hope to work with Congress to underscore the importance of federally funded research and increase federal accounts responsible for dispersing research funds at a steady rate above inflation each year beginning with the FY16 appropriations process.
Research & Development Tax Credit
The CEO Council thanks our Congressional delegation for recent passage of the tax extenders package, which retroactively extended the expired Research & Development (R&D) tax credit up to the end of 2014. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, since the credit was created in 1981, Congress has temporarily extended the credit 16 times. This uncertainty is not helpful to our region’s economy. Therefore, in the new Congress, we urge our lawmakers to expand and permanently extend the R&D tax credit as a way to provide companies an assured and enhanced incentive to invest in innovation domestically. Temporary or expiring provisions make it difficult for employers to make long-term decisions affecting the future of their business. A permanent R&D tax credit would foster job growth and instill long-term certainty for R&D enterprises, which are a critical part of our region.
Congress should also enact an innovation tax credit, similar to the bipartisan measures proposed before by members of our regional delegation in both the House and Senate, for young start-ups that will allow qualifying companies to offset employee tax liability. The tax credit would free up critical resources for new companies that have not yet created significant income tax liability to take advantage of the R&D tax credit.