House GOP Jobs Plan: Cuts, Marcellus Shale, Tort Reform
Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai held a press conference at 2 p.m. today with regard to the job climate in Pennsylvania. During the conference, which was livestreamed on the GOP House’s Facebook page (Thanks guys!), Turzai and others outlined their main ideas, which include a laundry-list of small government initiatives for which many have been fighting for a while.
The majority of the ideas they went over have already been introduced and/or passed during the current session by House Republicans. The majority of those ideas included cutting business taxes, protecting employers from lawsuit “abuse,” closing the Delaware loophole, lowering corporate taxes, modernizing aging infrastructure without raising taxes and allowing the unemployed to work for free to gather on-the-job training.
The Delaware loophole is called such because it allows Pennsylvania companies to reduce their taxes through shell companies in other states. Closing this is heavily supported by liberal groups. However, the bill in which the Delaware loophole is located includes heavy business tax cuts, which would, in some ways, negate much of the advantages that’d come from getting rid of the problem.
“We need to create a better job climate,” said Turzai. He noted what’s called the ‘Fair Share Act’ is the best way to start doing that. Signed last summer by Gov. Tom Corbett last summer, the Fair Share Act awards damages in civil litigation based on the defendant’s “actual level of responsibility for an injury” on the job. Turzai has said in the past that such bills create more “family sustaining jobs” and don’t allow employees to file frivolous lawsuits.
In addition, Rep. Turzai spoke at length about House Bill 1950, which he called a “reasonable approach to providing stability and predictability with respect to” the Marcellus Shale, which, he said, has created and will create “hundreds of thousands of jobs.”
HB 1950, the Shale impact fee bill, already passed the House by a party line vote. It’s been criticized by the left-leaning Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center as not going far enough in imposing a fee on state drilling.
“At a time when huge cuts are being made to our children’s education and tens of thousands of struggling Pennsylvanians are losing their health care, Pennsylvanians want to take a different course. They want to see drillers pay a tax that supports these priorities, protects the environment and helps impacted communities pay for the damages caused by drilling,” said Sharon Ward, Director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, when the bill passed last November.
Other topics spoken about included transportation. Dave Patti, CEO and President of the Pennsylvania Business Council, noted, “We have to think creatively about how to finance maintenance and expansion of our roads, our metro systems, and mass transit systems, our waterways that are not only inefficient but dangerous, our airports that get more traffic than they can handle in some cases and less traffic in others,” it was noted, and “all those steps combined will add to Pennsylvania’s workforce.”
Patti noted last year’s state budget “sent a strong message about the type of government we’re going to have: a government that is responsive to the economic realities of today.”
He wished for Pennsylvania’s business climate to eventually be more “business-friendly,” like, he said, North Carolina and Arizona.
Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate is currently 7.6 percent, below the national average of 8.3 percent. Arizona’s rate is 8.7 percent and North Carolina’s is 10.2 percent.
After the press conference, a list of bills (and links to their language) was posted here.