Before adjourning for Christmas recess, Democratic leaders issued a press release lambasting Gov. Corbett and the Republican legislature for their “extreme ideological crusade” and “no leadership on jobs.” The scathing critique included overtones of commonplace class warfare rhetoric accusing Republicans of attacking workers’ rights and the middle-class. Representative Dermody, D-Allegheny, went as far as saying that Republicans made Pennsylvania’s job climate worse coupled with failures in transportation and Marcellus Shale tax policy.
Despite Democratic claims, Republicans accomplished several achievements for Pennsylvania’s job climate. The Corbett budget reduced spending and did not raise taxes. The Corbett administration no longer had federal stimulus funds and made substantial cuts. An end to the state’s runaway government spending brought tax stability for job creators and Pennsylvanians. In order to successfully curb Pennsylvania’s onerous tax burden, Republicans passed legislation to reduce loopholes in school district property tax hikes without voter referendum. Republicans refrained from imposing large Marcellus Shale taxes which will keep the industry booming. According to Democratic philosophy, taking action on jobs equates to more government spending. In stark contrast, Republicans are trying to keep spending and taxes low so that the private sector can prosper.
Senator Hughes, D-Philadelphia, asserts that budget cuts are “reverse investments at a time when we should be investing more in our roads, bridges, mass transit, and our workers.” Governor Corbett’s transportation report in August agreed that the state of Pennsylvania’s infrastructure is deteriorating. Third party state rankings report that Pennsylvania’s roadways and bridges are amongst the worst in the nation despite being at the top of the leader board in roadway spending per mile. Additionally, fuel taxes, which fund the roadways, are amongst the highest in the nation. Instead of raising fuel taxes which increase the burden for Pennsylvanians at the pump, there must be reforms dedicated toward getting more value for the current funding. Senate Republicans passed SB 344 which established more public-private partnerships in transportation. More efficient infrastructure spending means more projects, more jobs, and better roadways.
Lastly, state Democrats protested against the Republican’s impact fee on Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling. Democratic leaders contend that the tax on drilling companies is not high enough for companies to “pay their fair share.” Democratic legislators criticize Pennsylvania for having the lowest tax on natural gas drillers in the nation. For many Democrats, the economic boom associated with the natural gas industry equates to more revenue for government spending. Republicans must proactively highlight the billions of dollars in capital investments, royalties given to local landowners, and taxes generated from the industry. The industry is successfully providing jobs and cheap energy to Pennsylvanians. Taxing the industry will ultimately reduce its investment and growth potential, and impose higher energy costs on already struggling consumers.
Democrats continue to lash out at GOP leadership in an effort to score political points and defer blame of the stagnant, faltering economy. Republicans must keep focused and press forward to reduce the growth of government, provide tax relief, and create a business friendly climate for job creation.