Jobs are the Answer
The simple answer to solving what ails our struggling economy, stagnant tax base, sluggish housing market, worsening crime problem, and so many other social and financial ills -- is jobs.
In the words of Ryan Boyer, business manager for the Philadelphia Laborers District Council, who took part in my recent Senate Democratic Policy Committee roundtable discussion in Philadelphia, "The best social program is a job."
For Senate Democrats, our top priority this year is to strengthen our economy and help create jobs -- without hiking taxes.
To that end, we have introduced the six-point "PA Works" plan. Our legislative package would create more than 28,000 jobs while actually saving state taxpayer dollars. By leveraging $2 billion in private investment, our plan would help put people to work, cut business taxes, help small businesses be more competitive, rebuild the state's aging infrastructure, foster the growth of promising new clean and green energy industries and retool worker training programs.
In the weeks and months ahead, my committee will be holding hearings throughout the state to gather local input on our plan. We want to hear from employers, workers, labor leaders, government officials and taxpayers to help us hone our legislation, pinpoint what will work, what won't and what we can improve.
Our first hearing was held recently in Philadelphia and focused on job training. I was impressed by the comments and ideas panelists openly discussed with my fellow Democrats and me.
Labor, government and job training experts discussed consolidating and streamlining job training programs, simplifying contract processes and placing more emphasis on finding work opportunities for workers who are disabled, uneducated or under-educated. Others weighed in on the need to coordinate training programs more closely with employers, tie economic development incentives with the hiring of Pennsylvania workers and provide tax incentives for high paying manufacturing businesses willing to relocate to Pennsylvania.
It was a good healthy discussion and can only strengthen what we hope to accomplish with limited resources.
In my view, creating jobs should be at the top of the priority list in Harrisburg and Washington. If you get people back to work, nearly all of the "other" problems we face will dissipate.
My late father, a former Bethlehem steelworker, taught me the value of hard work. To him, a job was one's prime source of dignity, a means to support one's family, and the foundation for building a future for one's children.
Jobs put money into people's pockets, customers into local shops, provide a positive and constructive influence on young people, and produce the kind of revenue that enables government leaders to provide important services without raising taxes.
In these difficult economic times, it is imperative that we do all we can help good people obtain the training and opportunities they need to find meaningful work.