Balanced Budget and Job Initiatives Paying Dividends
The federal government seems to have it backward when it comes to job creation.
You see, some folks in Washington believe that spending huge amounts of money, running deficits, and raising taxes to cover the interest on the mounting debt those policies create will somehow spur businesses to create jobs.
Having enough money for living expenses before buying something extra is just the common sense that gets families and businesses through everyday life. That is a message the Pennsylvania General Assembly heard loud and clear voters went to the polls last November.
So, our first order of business was to move swiftly to craft a budget bringing state spending within our means without raising taxes.
Not only did this give Pennsylvanians welcome relief from the tax hikes and overspending that had become characteristic of state budgets for the better part of the last decade, it also gives the private sector confidence that Pennsylvania is now a stable environment in which to grow a business and begin hiring.
With a solid budget foundation and predictable tax schedule established, the next step is to reduce the policy obstacles to job creation. After taxes, employers often list lawsuit abuse and over regulation as the biggest impediments to hiring additional workers.
Pennsylvania currently ranks as the 46th worst state for controlling lawsuit costs, and in the specific area of healthcare, recent studies show states that have implemented lawsuit reform spend 30 percent less on average lawsuit awards, and states with shorter statute of limitations on lawsuits spend 25 percent less.
These cost savings would make Pennsylvania a much more attractive state for doctors and hospitals, and lower the costs of healthcare for all residents and businesses.
That is why I have co-sponsored legislation to cap the amount of time by which a plaintiff could file a lawsuit to recover damages, and voted for the Fair Share Act, which has been signed into law.
The Fair Share Act discourages trial lawyers from shopping around for deep pockets to file suit against by holding that a person or entity found liable in a lawsuit will be responsible for paying only his or her share of the damages.
Fostering this jobs-friendly climate is already beginning to pay dividends. Last week it was reported that September’s unemployment rate in Pennsylvania was 8.3 percent.
While that is nearly 1 percent lower than the national rate, much more needs to be done.
To that end, the Republican House Caucus is now preparing to move forward with the Employ PA Initiative. Currently being drafted, this slate of polices is aimed at getting unemployed people back to work by strengthening our workforce and streamlining the red tape hindering job growth.
Some highlights of this initiative will be providing tax credits to innovative start-up companies, and a program giving credit to high school students who intern at approved businesses. These internships would provide students with important job-networking contacts and a resumé of work that specifically meets the needs of our state’s employers.
And for those with a solid work history, yet have the unfortunate stigma of being out of work for a long period of time, we are developing a system for Pennsylvania businesses to hire people who are currently unemployed and phase them in to their permanent work force.
There is also another obstacle to getting the unemployed back to work in Pennsylvania, and that is the hammerlock many labor unions have on the hiring process.
From 1999-2009, private sector employment declined 2.9 percent in states that allow unions to force employees to become members. In states where union membership or dues are not required as a condition of employment, private sector employment grew 3.7 percent during that same period.
To fix this problem, I have co-sponsored House Bill 50, which would allow Pennsylvania workers to accept employment without being forced to join a union.
On the subject of government regulation on business operations, I do believe our agencies play an important role in ensuring safe working conditions and protecting consumers. However, too many regulations have been drafted that hinder job creation without any discernable benefit.
I voted for legislation that passed the House and is now before the Senate giving small business a seat at the table when new regulations that affect their operations are proposed. Any new regulations would also be required to undergo an economic impact analysis.
We all hear political pundits on television saying government needs to do more to create jobs. If by “do more” they mean lawmakers should be busy removing government obstacles to employment and entrepreneurship, then I agree with them 100 percent.
But government can promote policies that create the conditions to foster robust economic growth and family-sustaining jobs.
That means continued fiscal discipline and sifting through volumes of government regulations to get rid of harmful economic policies until every worker who wants a job can find one.
Pennsylvania’s families deserve nothing less.