House Republicans in Pennsylvania have introduced a series of proposals they say are pro-jobs and would help the Keystone State’s economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions put in place by Gov. Tom Wolf.
The “Commonwealth’s COVID Comeback” package includes proposals to lower taxes and incentivize manufacturing and job creation.
The proposals include designing manufacturing operations zones and lowering the corporate net income tax by Jan. 1, 2025, from 9.99 percent to 5.99 percent. The package also contains a resolution to create a committee to evaluate opportunities to develop new industries, such as advanced manufacturing.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly magnified some issues our Commonwealth was already facing in terms of jobs and opportunity,” state Rep. Mike Reese, R-Westmoreland/Somerset, said in a news release. “It is vital that we plan for our future success by identifying opportunities to grow, change and capitalize on our unique strengths, including our natural resources, outstanding higher education institutions and the strong work ethic of our citizens.”
As part of the push, state Rep. Torren Ecker, R-Adams/Cumberland, wants to provide limited liability protections to so-called “critical suppliers,” including health care providers and employers operating amid the pandemic.
“By providing this protection, these industries can continue to do their jobs with confidence,” Ecker said in a news release. “These safe-harbor protections will be critical to facilitating our economic recovery.”
State Rep. Jonathan Fritz, R-Susquehanna/Wayne, is pushing a bill to require the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to deem permit applications administratively complete if they include an engineer’s affidavit attesting to the adequacy of the application. Additionally, the measure requires DEP to deliver a decision on applications without affidavits within 45 days.
Meanwhile, state Senate Democrats have unveiled a plan to spend the more than $1.3 billion in unspent federal tax dollars sent to Pennsylvania as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
According to a news release, they want to allocate $575 million for “business assistance” for businesses in the personal care, hospitality and tourism sectors and “Main Street and Historically Disadvantaged Businesses.” They also want to use $125 million to give Pennsylvanians relief from utility bills.
“When we passed our original spending plan for these dollars, we withheld a portion of our allocation to see … what would happen with COVID-19 through the summer and fall,” Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa Jr., D-Allegheny County, said in a news release.
“We waited for more assistance from the federal government that never came,” Costa added. “Washington has failed but here in PA, we have found that families, small businesses, and many other institutions need additional assistance for recovery. We’ve been allocated these funds to help with recovery; it’s time to spend them. Folks need help now.”