BLOG: Without Governor Wolf’s Budget, PA Faces Uncertain Economic Future

By: Sophie Stone, Deputy Press Secretary

February 11, 2016

There are two paths we can take in considering Pennsylvania’s economic future.

We can work with the private sector to make targeted investments in job creation or we can continue down a path of financial devastation caused by budget gimmickry that will result in a $2.3 billion deficit that will stifle economic growth in Pennsylvania. Governor Wolf has worked with businesses across Pennsylvania to help them grow and thrive, but inaction by the legislature has left us with a ballooning deficit.

If we build on the bipartisan budget agreement and work to eliminate the deficit, get Pennsylvania back on track and work with businesses to drive economic growth in Pennsylvania. If we fail to honestly address our deficit, we will see skyrocketing property taxes and a diminished economic environment.

FAILURE TO ACT

Property Tax Increases

If we do not act to eliminate our deficit, nearly three-quarters of Pennsylvania homeowners will see their already-too-high property taxes skyrocket even further. Property taxes will continue to increase for businesses, choking economic growth.

Lost Jobs

If we are unable to fix our deficit, key partnerships between the public and private sectors could be cut or eliminated. Funding cuts could be seen for the PA First Program, the WEDNet Program, the Ben Franklin Technology Partners, and the Partnerships for Regional Economic Performance program.

Elimination of Services for Local Governments

If we do not address the deficit, services that help municipalities could be cut. A cut in funding to the Center for Local Government Service and the Keystone Communities program would affect small town business development.

CHOOSING A RESPONSIBLE PATH

Investing in Proven Job Creation Programs

Since his inauguration, Governor Wolf has made “Jobs that Pay” a priority in Pennsylvania. The 2016-17 Budget continues to focus on policies and investments that foster the creation of good-paying jobs, encourage partnerships among business and our education system, and lead to a strong economy.

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Successful economic development requires partnerships between the public and private sectors. The 2016-17 Budget:

  • Provides an increase of $11 million to PA First for a total of $45 million, estimated to create at least 11,000 jobs, retain 40,000 jobs, and leverage $1.9 billion in private sector investment
  • Provides $15 million for The Keystone Communities program
  • Provides $30 million to Infrastructure and Facilities Improvement Program
  • Provides $798,000 to help prevent base realignment and closure actions by the federal government
  • Reallocates $125 million in existing Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) resources to recapitalize Business in Our Sites.
Making Work Pay: Increasing the Minimum Wage

Pennsylvanians who work full time at the minimum wage earn $15,080 annually, leaving them below the poverty level for a family of four and unable to afford basic necessities. The current minimum wage of $7.25 purchases about one-quarter less than the minimum wage did in 1968, although low-wage workers now are better educated and more skilled.

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The 2016-17 Budget proposes to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.15 per hour, while tying it to inflation to maintain its purchasing power over time. A minimum wage increase to $10.15 per hour supports local businesses, creates new jobs, and would boost state revenue by roughly $60 million annually.

Training Pennsylvania’s Workforce for Jobs That Pay

The federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) seeks to strategically align workforce development programs and match employers with qualified skilled workers.

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To complement the provisions in the proposed WIOA State Plan, this budget will provide:

  • $11.6 million to Pennsylvania Industry Partnerships program to enable workers to earn industry-recognized credentials and move up into better jobs,
  • A $2 million increase for vocational rehabilitation programs that help persons with disabilities prepare for, obtain and maintain employment, and
  • A $12 million to continue an initiative that combines the knowledge and experience of the state’s Industrial Resource Centers with the technological advances of our higher education sector through The IRC Manufacturing Initiative.
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