New Pennsylvania Governor, Legislature Must Seek Common Ground
(12/14) In the recent mid-term election, Pennsylvania voters selected Democrat Tom Wolf as their next governor, bucking a nationwide wave that moved several Republican governors into statehouse seats previously held by Democrats. At the same time, Pennsylvania voters gave Republicans the majority in both houses of the state Legislature and the largest majority in the House
for either party in more than 50 years.
When the newly-elected governor takes office on January 20, and the state legislature begins its new Legislative Session, it remains to be seen how well our governor — who hails from the mid-state and is a seasoned businessman — will work with a legislature that has been on a solid track of attracting businesses and jobs to Pennsylvania. It is certainly my hope that our
new governor will join with us to put our citizens to work and encourage continued economic growth and stability.
Clearly, there are some pressing issues facing the new administration and our Legislature that must soon be addressed. To do so, it will be essential for all sides to work together to find common ground and accomplish those things that will move Pennsylvania forward.
The greatest threat to our commonwealth’s economy and citizens is the looming pension crisis. Our two public pension systems — the State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS) and the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) are carrying a $50 billion unfunded liability that is growing at an alarming rate of $11 million per day. This unfunded liability accounts for
a sizable portion of the local property and school taxes paid by Pennsylvania citizens. While there is no silver bullet that will fix the pension problem overnight, lawmakers have drafted a sensible pension reform plan that will reverse the present course and, over time, correct the inequities in the current pension systems. We are hopeful the new governor will work with us to achieve this.
In the new term, the governor-elect and state Legislature must also work together on labor reform bills that will make Pennsylvania attractive to businesses and industry and will bring family-sustaining jobs here. All Pennsylvanians deserve a right to work and should not be hampered by project labor agreements that hamper fair and competitive bidding on construction
While significant progress has been made on tort reform and various taxing policies to help ensure a business-friendly environment in Pennsylvania, many of our current labor laws and overzealous state regulations could be sending the wrong message to employers and keeping them away. We need to encourage greater collaboration between schools and employers to create
innovative school-to-work opportunities and to explore mutually beneficial investments in business that will further stimulate our economy.
I am hopeful that, as a businessman, our new governor will work with the General Assembly to make the changes needed to entice businesses to relocate here and further improve Pennsylvania’s job climate. Several acquaintances from central Pennsylvania have told me that the governor-elect is a good listener and willing to work across the aisle. His experience as the owner of
a successful, non-unionized company also demonstrates his understanding of today’s business world.
The average annual working class salary of the people I represent in Adams County is less than $30,000. While Wolf’s trademark Jeep has helped to portray him as "everyman," I am hopeful that he will keep every man, woman and child in mind when he takes office as our governor in January.
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