GIBSONIA – As we continue to push past the COVID-19 pandemic, the question remains: How do we get Pennsylvania’s economy back on track? Rep. Rob Mercuri (R-Allegheny) and Rep. Lori Mizgorski (R-Allegheny) co-hosted a panel consisting of education, innovation and economic growth leaders who testified before the House Majority Policy Committee on Wednesday to discuss how the economy could reach its peak.
“The dialogue focused on how Pennsylvania can thrive and be able to stand toe-to-toe with other states on business competition,” Mercuri said. “Current policies are holding the Commonwealth back from reaching its potential, especially coming out of a pandemic year. The testimony provided by leaders in different sectors delivered beneficial information for us to work with in Harrisburg.”
“Our state was a leader in economic growth,” said Mizgorski. “The pandemic put a wrench in the nation’s economy, but now it is time to think about how to move forward. I believe our state can be a leader once again. This meeting was informative and will help us create legislation to rebuild this Commonwealth.”
Held at Esther Barazzone Center at Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus in Gibsonia, the policy hearing’s testifiers included:
• Lou Leonard, JD, dean of the Falk School of Sustainability and Environment Chatham University
• Dr. Quintin B. Bullock, president of the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC)
• Dan Flynn, president and CEO of Accipiter Systems
• Gregg Troian, president of PGT Trucking
• Jenn Beer, vice president of government affairs, Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce
• Donald “Don” F. Smith, Jr., PhD, president of the Regional Industrial Development Corporation (RIDC)
Testimony from several panelists, including Dr. Leonard, suggested workforce development, focusing on blue-collar jobs and adapting to technology, will lead the Commonwealth down a successful path.
“Agriculture, energy and water are foundations of Pennsylvania’s economy and its future jobs,” said Leonard. “These industries are changing rapidly – with a significant shift toward sustainable practices. From 2017-19, for example, jobs in clean energy fields in Pennsylvania grew over four times faster than jobs in the economy overall. This shift requires innovating around new approaches and supporting a workforce that can adapt to these changes and learn new skills.”
Other points brought forth included reforming Pennsylvania’s uncompetitive tax structure, implementing policies that attract businesses and expansion, and investment in public goods.
“For 2021, the Commonwealth is ranked 43rd out of 50 states in the Tax Foundation’s Corporate Tax Rank,” said Beer. “There are two outstanding issues that we believe need to be addressed immediately to make us more competitive and to be able to compete for family-sustaining jobs: materially reduce the corporate net income (CNI) tax rate and fully lift the cap on Net Operating Loss (NOL) carryforwards. With respect to the CNI rate, it is no secret that our flat 9.99 % rate – the highest non-graduated CNI rate in the country – serves as a blinking red light for business attraction.”
“The state budget the General Assembly recently passed includes no new taxes or fees, but that doesn’t mean that our current tax structure is working well for our state,” Mizgorski continued. “In order to attract new businesses and keep them here, we need them to be able to afford it. Evaluating our current tax structure and making changes is at the top of our priority list.”
“I want to thank Rep. Mercuri and Rep. Mizgorski for hosting the Policy Committee in Allegheny County and giving us the chance to speak with leaders in different career fields on issues that stand out to them,” said House Majority Policy Committee Chairman Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter). “We need to be the driving force behind appealing to new businesses, new industries, new jobs, new ideas and new skills that will launch us into the future.”
“I would also like to thank Argo AI and Aurora for participating in the policy tour on Tuesday,” Mercuri said. “Leaders from these two pivotal companies exemplified a commitment to job and economic growth by participating in a roundtable discussion. I am grateful for their input on how Pennsylvania can become a business-friendly state.”
The 28th Legislative District includes boroughs of Bradford Woods and Franklin Park and townships of Marshall, McCandless, and Pine. The 30th Legislative District includes the borough of Fox Chapel and the townships of Hampton, O’Hara, Richland and Shaler.
Representative Robert Mercuri
28th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Nate Temple