Pennsylvania’s economy is at its strongest when it works for all of us. Despite reports that our economy is doing better generally, the reality is that only a few people get to grow extremely wealthy while so many more are left treading water. This is not only morally and ethically wrong, but when the majority of people are struggling, it negatively impacts all aspects and members of society, including those who are doing well. The approach I will take to improve our economy is to look at everything holistically. Too frequently, we try to address one issue in isolation and the solution just leads to another issue a few paces down the road. As a start, my mission is to create well-paying jobs, bring sustainable investment to the state, end reckless fiscal policy, and close the equality gap squeezing the middle class. On these fronts, current Harrisburg leadership has consistently kicked the can down the road. Quite frankly, we are running out of road, and that can will go over the cliff that awaits us at the end, taking us and our children’s futures with it. It’s time to pick up the can and deal with real problems by forging real solutions that will not come about overnight, but that will have a lasting impact.
We must support job training for both traditional and emerging fields, as well as job retraining and/or continuing education to keep older workers up to date with the skills that will enable them to be productive until they are ready to retire. Ensuring accessible and affordable public education for all ages will empower our whole local workforce as they move through various phases of their careers. I am a strong supporter of union labor, which was the single biggest force for expanding the middle class in the 20th century and which has been under constant attack by leaders who represent the owners and investors over the people. I understand the vital role union labor plays in our region, and while in office will be a check against political forces that try to chip away at unions.
Following the partisan budget battles of recent years and Pennsylvania’s subsequent credit downgrade, the state has become less attractive to potential investors who require the stability and a positive future outlook Harrisburg has failed to provide. To improve our economy, we have to be an appealing landscape to a wide variety of businesses: agricultural, industrial, technological, financial, professional, health, and services. With an educated, skilled, diverse, and open workforce, we become an ideal place for businesses to put down roots and provide jobs to Pennsylvania residents, which in turn ensures that the most money stays in the Commonwealth’s economy. With a healthier environment and a higher standard of living, our economic landscape is more attractive and sustainable.
Our economy continues to be damaged by those leaders who believe that we have to prioritize either the worker or the business owner; that one wins only at the expense of the other in a zero sum game. In fact, long term economic health relies on creating a nurturing, supportive environment for both the business owners and for the workforce. In recent years, Harrisburg leadership has been notorious for bad fiscal policies. Past efforts to block the budget have strained the operations of state agencies and eroded confidence in the legislature. It is time to change that. To do so, instead of raising taxes on citizens, we must curb tax giveaways to multinational corporations that take local jobs overseas. Government spending should benefit constituents, not corporations. Pennsylvania desperately needs investment in local infrastructure, public transportation, and energy, and citizens are rightfully frustrated when the same politicians who try to syphon funds to special interests slash budgets for public projects that would lead to investment at home. This needs to stop.
Policies that foster both business success and worker success are available if the legislature chooses to implement them. But the entrenched politicians will only continue to enact harmful fiscal policies at the behest of the big donor companies, continuing the growth in the equality gap in Pennsylvania. I will be a strong advocate for lower and middle class Pennsylvanians, and I will work to steer the legislature towards policies that empower people to grow financially and achieve stability, rather than just scrape by.