Senator Doug Mastriano E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Op-ED: Reshoring jobs to Pennsylvania will help solve supply chain woes
  • Mastriano and Robinson Propose Legislation to Fund the Police
  • Revenue Department Extends Call Center Hours for Tax Season
  • Winter Utility Disconnection Moratorium Ends March 31
  • Adult Education Grants Available
  • Saturday is Mentored Youth Trout Day
  • Vietnam War Veterans Day March 29

Op-ED: Reshoring jobs to Pennsylvania will help solve supply chain woes

The arrival of COVID-19 brought to light several underlying issues in America. But perhaps the issue that has most been exposed is our overreliance reliance on products made outside of our borders.

International disruptions such as pandemics, natural disasters, and political upheaval significantly impact our nation’s supply chain of goods. The result of that disruption is stunted economic growth and increased prices for American consumers.

During my travels around Pennsylvania, it has been hard to ignore the abandoned factories and hallowed out towns throughout our Commonwealth. Once vibrant communities were replaced with vacant lots and blight. Parents had to say goodbye to their children as they moved far away to find any kind of stable employment. Drugs usage and welfare replaced prosperity and family building.

It wasn’t always this way. Pennsylvania towns used to be a “keystone” to America’s ability to make products desired around the World. Our iron and steel once built the Golden Gate Bridge, the Hoover Dam, and the Empire State Building.

In 1999, manufacturing jobs accounted for 865,000 jobs in PA. By 2019, that shrunk to 575,000.

The transition of jobs from the manufacturing sector to the service sector had a disproportional effect on men without a college degree in our Commonwealth. Their lack of a degree and unique skillset made it difficult to find other good paying and fulfilling jobs.

Fatal foreign policy mistakes by the federal government and the failure of Pennsylvania’s state leaders to replicate pro-business polices implemented in other states were significant factors in the downfall of our manufacturing sector.

Many economic analysists point to the early 2000s as a consequential period that accelerated the decline.

20 years ago, the World Trade Organization made the fateful decision to admit the People’s Republic of China as member nation. The same WTO that oversees the global system of trade rules and regulations. China’s entry also granted them permanent “most favored nation” status in trade with the United States. Prior to its WTO entry, that status had to be approved on an annual basis by US Congress.

The monumental economic and political effects China’s entry into the WTO continue to reverberate today.

It opened the floodgates for foreign trade and investment into China’s markets. Most significantly, it led to China’s domination in the manufactured goods export market. China’s share of global manufacturing exports went from 4% in 2000 to 15% in 2020.

China’s advantage of an overabundant labor force, lax labor laws, and large government subsidies give them an unfair advantage when it comes to attracting companies to manufacture goods there.

America’s trade deficit with China grew by over 400% from 2001-2018. According to a study by the Economic Policy Institute, this amounted to the loss of 3.7 million overall American jobs from 2001-2018.

While international agreements, automation, and changes in technology were factors in the decline of manufacturing in PA, our state leaders certainly didn’t do any favors to keep the jobs we had or attract new investment.

While the manufacturing sector largely contracted in northeast states like Pennsylvania, other states adapted their business policies and found ways to attract new investment opportunities.

Ball State University’s Center for Business and Economic research conducts a comprehensive nationwide manufacturing industry scorecard every year dating back to 2009. The scorecard examines factors such as tax climate, regulatory environment, and human capital.

Every year, Pennsylvania has received a grade of “C” or worse when it comes to manufacturing health. Conversely, states like Michigan, Kentucky, and South Carolina receive an “A”.

Michigan, Kentucky, and South Carolina all saw an annual average manufacturing growth rate of 2% or more since 2009, according to the U.S Bureau of Economic Analysis. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s growth was anemic at less than 1%.

How do we make more Pennsylvania more attractive to prospective manufacturers? Let’s start with much needed regulatory reform.

Pennsylvania was rated at #35 in the nation for regulatory environment, according to Forbes Best Business Ratings.  With over 153,000 regulations on the books, we have one of the most burdensome regulatory codes in the country. It would take an individual about 713 hours—or just under 18 weeks—to read the entire Pennsylvania Code.

Review, modification, and rescindment of onerous regulations can be the genesis of a manufacturing resurgence. There is a cost to every regulation. That cost is exacerbated when the regulation is no longer needed. Regulations need to be reviewed on a regular basis to determine if they continue to be needed, require modification, or require termination. By creating a consistent review schedule, the General Assembly can determine whether a regulation should be continued, modified, or terminated.

Additionally, creating a “2 for 1” model (removing 2 regulations for any new regulation) is something we should adopt here in Pennsylvania. 

We also must improve our permitting process. Members of the General Assembly often hear from prospective employers who ask why does it take so long to get a permit? Where does my permit stand? What is the holdup?

We saw this issue in practice when U.S. Steel decided to pull out of a $1.5 billion investment in the Mon Valley Works in Braddock, PA. After delays in getting approvals and permits, US Steel called it off and the region lost out an opportunity to gain hundreds of good paying, blue-collar jobs.

Passing legislation to create a tracking system for permit applications and permit and third-party review of permit decision delays will go a long way to address concerns of business owners & bring greater transparency to the permitting review process.

We need to make our state a more attractive tax climate.  Our current Corporate Net Income Tax is the second largest in the country at 9.99 percent. For comparison, Arkansas’ corporate tax rate of 5% recently helped them land the most advanced steelmaking facility in North America that is expected to produce 3 million tons of advanced steel per year.

Reducing the corporate tax burden by at least 2 percent here will help us compete with other states to attract prospective manufacturers. Thankfully, it appears that this idea is starting to gain bipartisan support.

But I also believe that a corporate tax reduction should be contingent on employers agreeing to retain or attract a certain number of jobs in the Commonwealth. We must ensure these companies are doing their part to invest in our people.

Will Pennsylvania’s manufacturing employment and output ever return to its heyday? Not likely.

But there are steps that our Commonwealth can take now that will instantly make us a more attractive location for manufacturers to grow and invest. Pennsylvania manufacturing sector once powered America into the Industrial Revolution and helped her become the “Arsenal of Democracy” through two World Wars.

We can lead the way once again in reshoring jobs to America and stabilizing our supply chains in the long run.

PA Senate News Release
Mastriano and Robinson Propose Legislation to Fund the Police
March 23, 2022

Harrisburg- Senator Doug Mastriano (PA-33) and Senator Devlin Robinson (PA-37) announced today a plan to introduce legislation that will use $100 million in federal funds to establish the “Law Enforcement Recovery Grant.” The grant program will assist agencies that have faced new challenges and stressors brought on by COVID-19.

Police departments, offices of the sheriff, and the State Police will have the opportunity to apply for the grant funding

Agencies in urban, suburban, and rural parts of Pennsylvania currently face significant officer vacancies that are projected to continue to worsen with increasing retirements and a tight labor market in the wake of COVID. Under the new grant program, agencies will be eligible to apply for grant awards to fund strategies and incentives to attract new recruits and retain current officers.

The rise of violent crime and increase in trafficking of deadly drugs such as fentanyl since 2020 has created an additional burden on depleted agencies. Eligible agencies will have the opportunity to apply for grant money to invest in technology, improve equipment, and eliminate evidence testing backlogs.

The grant program will be administered by the Commission on Crime and Delinquency who will determine awards for applicant agencies. To ensure transparency and oversight of the grant program, annual public reports will be required to detail how the grant money was used by the receiving agencies. 

“There is a growing bipartisan chorus to adequately fund our law enforcement agencies in the aftermath of COVID-19”, said Senator Mastriano. “Even President Biden admitted during his State of the Union that the answer to rising violent crime around the nation is to FUND the Police. Pennsylvania’s law enforcement agencies have been decimated over the last two years with many vacancies and high staff turnover. Additionally, our state has had the third highest increase in violent crimes in the entire nation in the aftermath of COVID-19. To make matters worse, fatal fentanyl overdose deaths have jumped by 16% since 2020.  The law enforcement recovery grant will ensure that agencies across the commonwealth have the resources needed to properly serve their communities and save lives.”

“It is time to prioritize law enforcement who served on the front lines alongside first responders,” Sen. Robinson said. “We rely on law enforcement to keep our communities safe, and this funding will provide the resources vital to maintaining peace and order.”

Co-Sponsor Memo: LE Recovery Grant Program

Media Contact: Josh Herman (Mastriano)

                            Allie Dutrey (Robinson)

Revenue Department Extends Call Center Hours for Tax Season

With the April 18 tax filing deadline approaching, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue is extending its customer service hours for taxpayers to get help by phone.

Personal income tax assistance will be available between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, by calling 717-787-8201.

Personal income tax assistance is also available through the department’s Online Customer Service Center. It contains answers to hundreds of common income tax questions and allows taxpayers to securely submit a question to the department through a process that is similar to sending an email. Department of Revenue district offices are also open to provide customer service. Taxpayers are encouraged to call ahead to schedule an appointment.

Winter Utility Disconnection Moratorium Ends March 31

Reminder to residential electricity customers: the winter utility disconnection moratorium will end March 31, meaning on April 1 shut-offs for nonpayment of bills will resume.

Between Dec. 1 and March 31, Pennsylvania has special rules for winter utility terminations for income-qualified households served by utilities regulated by the Public Utility Commission (PUC). During this seasonal termination moratorium, eligible households cannot have electric, natural gas or heat-related water service turned off for non-payment unless the utility receives permission from the PUC. 

According to the PUC, the best action any at-risk consumer can take right now is to call their utility’s customer service hotline and ask for information about their customer assistance programs designed to make energy bills more affordable.

Adult Education Grants Available

State funding is now available to support lifelong learning through competitive Adult Basic Education Direct Service grants.

The grants are awarded to local adult education programs to provide free adult education and literacy activities to help adults improve their reading, writing, speaking, comprehension and mathematics skills, earn a high school equivalency credential, and develop the knowledge and skills for employment and economic self-sufficiency.

Applications must be submitted by April 7. For more information, you can view the Adult Basic Education Direct Service Grant Competition Information Webinar and access Frequently Asked Questions.

Saturday is Mentored Youth Fishing Day

Saturday, March 26, is Mentored Youth Trout Fishing Day across Pennsylvania, an opportunity for young anglers and their adult mentors to fish for trout prior to opening day of the season.

Youth anglers must obtain a Mentored Youth Permit or a Voluntary Youth Fishing License and be accompanied by a licensed adult angler to participate. Adult anglers (age 16 or older) must possess a valid Pennsylvania Fishing License and a current Trout/Salmon Permit.

Unlike previous years with regional and statewide days, there is now only one, statewide Mentored Youth Fishing Day and one, statewide Trout Opening Day (April 2).

Vietnam War Veterans Day March 29

On March 29, 1973, U.S. combat and combat support units began to withdraw from South Vietnam.

It marked the beginning of the end of a conflict that cost the lives of more than 58,000 Americans. Returning veterans did not receive the welcome they deserved, and many dealt with the effects of war alone. National Vietnam War Veterans Day was established in 2017 for us to express our heartfelt admiration and to pay these veterans the respect they earned.

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