What fiscal cliff bill means for students

To many students, the term “fiscal cliff” means a whole lot of nothing. But buried in the jargon and minute details of the bill Congress passed early this month to avoid an economic disaster are some positive signs for Michigan industries ­— and for students looking for jobs in those industries. Here are a few of the benefits.

1. Milk and honeybees
The price hike of milk from $3.50 to $8 per gallon could have meant the end to late-night cereal binges. Congress averted the spike by extending the 2008 Farm Bill, which keeps prices low through a process of calculating milk prices. The fiscal cliff bill also provided assistance to some farmers for losses caused by bad weather — such as early freezes and droughts this past year.
Corn and soybean crops were particularly hard hit by the drought, said Jill Cords, field career consultant of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The bill also extends tax breaks for research, conservation, energy and organic agriculture programs, some which are found at MSU.

2. Wind energy
MSU students looking for a career in renewable energy have a greater chance of working with wind energy for at least another year. The fiscal cliff bill extended tax credits for wind energy production, which will cost the country about $12.2 billion and save up to 37,000 jobs, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Michigan ranks No. 7 among the top 10 states for overall wind jobs, employing between 4,000 and 5,000 workers in energy-related careers.
“We’re in the midst of an expansion of wind energy in the state,” said Fred Poston, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and former vice president of finance and operations.”

3. Michigan NASCAR
The Michigan International Speedway, home of the state’s NASCAR races, sped away from the fiscal cliff deal with a $78 million dollar tax break. A section of the fiscal cliff bill extended the 7-year recovery period for “motorsports entertainment complexes,” which means anyone who builds a racetrack will receive tax benefits and can deduct thousands in expenses for seven years after it’s built.

4. Film-makers
There is good news for movie producers eyeing the mitten as the set of the next big hit — $430 million in tax credits for movie producers. When Gov. Rick Snyder took office, he reversed the 2008 filmmaking initiatives in Michigan and capped spending at $25 million in 2011. According to the fiscal cliff bill passed this month, federal funding will pay the first $15 million filmmakers spend in production costs — $20 million for movies filmed in economically-depressed areas.

5. Electric Cars
For any environ-ment-friendly driver looking to buy an electric car, the government will cover 10 percent or up to $2,500 of the vehicle’s cost. MSU has its own electric vehicle charging station in the Kellogg Center parking ramp and East Lansing installed another at the East Lansing Public Library.

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