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Under bipartisan bill, companies could get tax credit for hiring apprentices

The 'LEAP Act' would give businesses $1,500 tax breaks for every vocational-school trained apprentice they hire.

BELLEVILLE, Illinois — A bipartisan push in Congress could soon give companies a tax break for hiring workers trained at vocational schools, including facilities at high schools in the Metro East. 

First-term Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski (D-IL 13) toured one of those workforce training sites at the Belleville Center for Academic and Vocation Excellence, or C.A.V.E, on Wednesday morning. She visited a similar site in Collinsville earlier in the week. 

"This work is incredibly inspiring," Budzinski said, highlighting the potential for high school students "to get on the pathway to good jobs in the middle class."

"We need to be spreading this as a model throughout central and southern Illinois for high school students so that they know all of their opportunities," she said.

Budzinski is boasting bipartisan backing for the ‘Leveraging and Energizing America’s Apprenticeship Programs Act,' or 'LEAP Act,' which would allow businesses to claim a $1,500 tax credit for new-hire employees during the first three years of their careers if the companies hired them through the apprenticeship program. 

U.S. Rep. Mike Carey (R-Ohio) co-sponsored the measure. A previous version of the proposal was initially filed by former Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis. The updated plan would lift the age limit to allow companies to qualify for employees of all ages. 

"It was a great bill and I’m glad she is taking it up this Congress, leading the effort with my good friend Congressman Mike Carey," Davis told 5 On Your Side. "It’s great that she is hitting the ground running on this important issue to address workforce shortages affecting our communities."

According to a previous cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, taxpayers would see no additional cost for the benefit because the government would offset its costs by printing less paper in government agencies.

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