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Central Valley initiative looks to offer incentives to get people back to work

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Posted at 11:04 PM, Sep 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-17 02:20:03-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — With EDD ending pandemic unemployment assistance earlier this month Central Valley lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are advocating for new legislation that can assist in getting Californians back to work.

Help wanted signs have been popping up around town. Assemblymember Rudy Salas said these signs keep popping up, as small businesses around the Central Valley are short-staffed right now. A bipartisan initiative is in the works trying to change that.

“This is just evident when we go out for a family meal for instance, and you see a ‘Help Wanted’ sign, or you see them short-staffed, so we know that there’s work out there. So now it’s, how do we get individuals that we get individuals that were on assistance because of the pandemic--how do we get them back in the workforce?” said Salas.

Lawmakers literally took the “help wanted” posters they’ve been seeing as a sign that it was time to bring the issue before the governor and penned him a letter last week.

“Obviously, the state of California has done very well, we did have a surplus, so really right now it’s about how can we use a combination of those funds that we currently have to incentivize people to get back into work,” said Salas. “Because we know that at the end of the day when people are working, they’re contributing to the economy. So, they’re going to make the bottom line that much stronger.”

An initiative that started at the Fresno Chamber of Commerce “Help Wanted CA” is calling for the state to use state funds for employee incentives like rental assistance, offsetting the cost of childcare, or even stipends for a certain amount of hours worked.

“We pointed out some of the things they’re doing at other states. For example, in Colorado, they’re actually a bonus to folks, $1200 if they go back to work by a certain date. They’re doing something like that in Oklahoma as well,” said Salas.

Clint Olivier is the CEO of Bizfed Central Valley one of the supporters of the help wanted initiative Olivier said their company has 75 businesses and associations that represent 30,000 workers in total.

“Including their families, we represent 400,000 people right here in Central Valley. So, we’d like to think when our board votes, we are speaking up for everyone for employees, for businesses, because we have to get the economy back on track,” said Oliver.

23ABC asked viewers what they thought about what they thought of government-funded incentives for getting back to work. Most seemed to not favor the idea.

“I have worked all throughout this pandemic. It is simple, cut off the assistance and they will go back to work,” said a viewer.

“I go to work to pay my bills and provide a good life for my family. That’s plenty of incentive for me,” said a viewer.

“How about bonuses to those who have worked through all this mess,” said a viewer.