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'PA Works Now' Reinvests in Pennsylvania's Working Families
By failing to pass a comprehensive jobs plan, Congress continued its partisan ways and abandoned its responsibility to the American public.
The Obama jobs plan would have put people back to work and more money into the pockets of working Americans.
Yet this week the U.S. Senate failed to override the Republican-led filibuster that prevented President Obama’s American Jobs Act from even being debated. This happened despite the fact that more than 9 percent of the American workforce is unemployed, poverty rates are increasing, foreclosure rates are stunningly high and our infrastructure is crumbling.
U.S. Senate Democratic Leader, Harry Reid calls out Republicans for blocking American Jobs Act.
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding continued Republican efforts to block job-creating legislation. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Republican obstructionism has once against cost this nation millions of jobs.
Last night, Republicans blocked the American Jobs Act, President Obama’s plan to create 2 million jobs by giving tax cuts to business and middle-class families and investing in modern roads, bridges and schools. Continue Reading →
Because of this politically-charged circus in Washington, states must take the lead on creating jobs.
Senate Democrats understand that the top priority in many households right now is finding long-term, family sustaining employment. More than a half-million Pennsylvania workers are unemployed. The numbers will only get worse if we fail to act.
It is time to refocus our priorities and do what is right for Pennsylvania’s families, our economy and future.
Pennsylvania is hurting. Putting people back to work should be our number one priority and my Senate Democratic colleagues and I believe we have the tools and resources to do that right now.
A few weeks ago, we unveiled a comprehensive jobs plan that offered solid solutions to the real issues facing Pennsylvania’s citizens.
The plan, called “PA Works NOW,” builds on a package of economic development bills we introduced in the spring. Our new plan streamlines this package and creates a financing mechanism called the Pennsylvania Investment Bank. PA Works Now leverages private investment and uses existing state resources to put people to work immediately.
The PA Works NOW investment strategy would create more than 80,000 new jobs, spurring an immediate, economic boost. It would hold the line on broad based taxes and make critical, long term investments in infrastructure rehabilitation to create new opportunities for future growth and development.
PA Works Now rebuilds our transportation, water and sewer, and public utility infrastructures. It invests in our information and technology infrastructure to keep Pennsylvania internationally competitive. It invests in green technology and rebuilds crumbling, distressed neighborhoods and small towns.
Our roads, bridges, water supply, power grid, schools and solid waste systems are faltering and it will take innovative thinking and investment to drive Pennsylvania’s infrastructure revitalization. We’ve front-loaded public infrastructure investments and retooled initiatives to stimulate our economy and create jobs now.
Our plan begins with significant investments in our state’s infrastructure. These investments can create job immediately and provide long-term economic benefits:
- $100 infrastructure investment returns $350 to our economy;
- $1 billion investment in highway and bridge improvements supports 30,000 jobs
- $1 invested in public transportation generates $4 in new economic activity;
- $1 billion invested in water and wastewater systems creates 27,000 new jobs
- and an estimated $82 million in state and local tax revenue.
The PA Works Now investment strategy would create more than 80,000 new jobs. These jobs would provide an immediate economic stimulus. The plan would make use of state resources, leverage private resources and make critical long term capital investments to create new opportunities for future growth and development.
Create Pennsylvania Investment Bank
Our proposed Pennsylvania Investment Bank would finance transportation projects, water, sewer and other public utility needs, green building investments, information and communication technology initiatives and other capital needs.
The emphasis would be on tailoring financing to create jobs now. The bank would also be able to leverage private dollars to generate even more jobs in the near term.
The Pennsylvania Investment Bank would be capitalized by:
- Dedicating a portion of revenue from an energy extraction tax paid by gas drillers;
- Dedicating surplus state revenues (as we currently do with our Rainy Day fund);
- Creative financing and resource management by the State Treasurer and using existing state programs.
$1 Billion in new Water & Sewer Investment
The creation of the Pennsylvania Investment Bank would capitalize $1 billion in new investment for water and sewer infrastructure through PENNVEST and the Commonwealth Finance Authority.
Recapitalize Business in Our Sites Now
New shovel-ready sites could be created by recapitalizing our successful “Business in our Sites” program.
Green Investment Pumps Dollars into the Economy
Public green building investments could be supported for the state, local governments and schools to make new energy efficiency improvements that leverage existing ESCO and high performance building investments.
Information and Communication Technology Investments
Capital investments for information and communication technology projects and next generation infrastructure technologies could also be supported, and carefully structured to build upon existing private sector commitments.
Over 500,000 Pennsylvanians remain unemployed, and many of these displaced workers have been without jobs for a year or more. “Train-to-Work PA” would be an employer-driven program modeled after the Successful “Georgia Works” program. The program would use federal dislocated worker monies to fund on-the-job training opportunities leading to permanent employment.
Access to Capital for Business Investment
A PA Business Loan Guarantee Program would encourage private lenders to make loans by permitting guarantees of up to 100 percent of the principal amount of the loan for new investment for borrowers willing to take at least a 10 percent equity interest in the project.
State programs that finance machinery & equipment and land and building investment are in dire need of capitalization. They are currently only able to lend up to half of their true capacity. Suspending the expected transfer of more than $100 million into the Rainy Day Fund and instead using the funds to recapitalize these loan programs would be a huge stimulus for business investment.
Job Creation Tax Credits
Our current job creation tax credit program could prove to be a robust job producer with modification. Program modifications would include increasing the credit from $1,000 to $2,000 for a new job or $4,000 when hiring the long term unemployed. For small businesses, a lower job creation threshold should be established while the cap on the total number of credits issued annually should be doubled. Focusing our tax incentives in this way ensures that the tax subsidies actually create new jobs.
Our Pennsylvania Home plan would target limited resources to capitalize our State Housing Trust Fund that was created a few years ago, but never funded. The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) and the State Treasurer have combined resources to provide incentives for first-time home buyers periodically throughout the past few decades. These efforts must be restarted.
Instead of focusing on polarizing issues that Republicans now champion - like altering the Electoral College process, voter ID and English-only legislation - that are irrelevant to most Pennsylvanians, we must instead focus on doing what’s right for Pennsylvania.
None of the Republican initiatives create jobs. These simply appeal to the political extreme at the expense of working families. Working men and women need jobs now.
We must reinvest in Pennsylvania. We can make a difference now by working adopting a plan like PA Works Now.
Senate Democrats get it. We understand that Pennsylvania needs polices that put Pennsylvanians back to work. We will continue the fight for working families.
You can find out more specifics about our PA Works Now proposal on my website at senatorhughes.com. And be sure to find me on Facebook and Twitter (@SenatorHughes).
Offices of State
Senator Vincent Hughes