Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks at a union rally on Oct. 16, 2020 in Pittsburgh (Capital-Star photo).
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Josh Shapiro said as governor he would energize Pennsylvania’s economy by cutting red tape, attracting innovative businesses and building a skilled workforce.
Shapiro announced the plan Monday during an event at a Lackawanna County company that builds architectural staircases.
In a statement, Shapiro, who is the sitting attorney general, also said he would also further lower the state’s corporate net income tax, and embrace Pennsylvania’s role as a natural gas producer while investing in green technology for the future.
“As governor, I’ll lead the way to reignite our economy, ensuring businesses come to Pennsylvania and stay here, making our commonwealth a national leader for innovation, manufacturing, and job creation,” Shapiro said.
Pennsylvania would lead the nation in biotechnology and autonomous vehicles, connect businesses with research institutions, provide access to capital, and create a pipeline of talent from high schools to colleges to the workforce by investing in career and vocational training, Shapiro said.
A pro-growth agenda from Shapiro should appeal to independent voters and moderate Republicans, who may reject GOP nominee Doug Mastriano’s extreme positions, Millersville University political analyst Terry Madonna said.
Madonna said Shapiro’s “all-of-the-above” energy policy is also not unusual for Democratic candidates. He noted that Gov. Tom Wolf is a proponent of fracking although he has been unsuccessful in his goal of establishing a tax on gas production.
Mastriano, a state senator from Franklin County, identifies eliminating property taxes, cutting the gas tax and reducing the corporate net income tax to attract new jobs as economic priorities, according to his website. Mastriano’s website also says he would cut tens of thousands of state regulations.
Mastriano’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
On Monday, Shapiro laid out a four-pronged approach to boosting Pennsylvania’s economy:
As governor, Shapiro would develop a comprehensive strategy for fostering new industries by creating innovation hubs to connect businesses, universities, research centers and workers to create jobs. The administration would also expand the state Department of Community and Economic Development’s Manufacturing PA initiative encouraging higher education institutions to work with employers to develop a trained workforce.
To create an economic climate that facilitates growth, Shapiro would create an office of Economic Growth and Workforce Development to streamline the process for businesses to get permits and licenses. All state agencies involved in economic development would have an online portal allowing applicants to track the status of their requests and establish timelines to make licensing and permitting predictable.
Shapiro also said he would lower the corporate tax rate to 4 percent by 2025, significantly accelerating and exceeding the mileposts set in legislation passed last month to reduce the rate to 5 percent by 2031.
Shapiro said he doesn’t accept that Pennsylvania must choose between fossil fuel jobs and environmental justice. As governor, he would support the gas industry and promote growth in clean energy by setting a goal of generating 30 percent of Pennsylvania’s energy from renewable sources by 2030.
He would also set a goal for Pennsylvania to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. He said he would also aggressively push to make Pennsylvania the home of a new regional hydrogen hub and grow the state’s carbon capture, utilization, and storage industry to create thousands of jobs.
To recruit and retain a skilled workforce, Shapiro said he would increase investment in vocational and job skills training and “build a pipeline from our high schools to the workforce. Four-year degree requirements would be eliminated from thousands of state government jobs, triple funding for apprenticeship programs and add career and technical training to high school curriculums. He said he would also support and expand the rights of workers to unionize to secure benefits.
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