Inquirer Editorial: Evans wants to light a fire under job-creation efforts

Posted: February 25, 2012

The legislature and Gov. Corbett should give serious consideration to a package of bills proposed by State Rep. Dwight Evans to ramp up the state's efforts to create more jobs.

Give the Philadelphia Democrat credit for seeking bipartisan support to lower the unemployment rate.

The details in Evans' four "Made in Pennsylvania" jobs bills offer a stark contrast to the $27.1 million budget proposed by Corbett, which calls for a more business-friendly climate in Pennsylvania, but offers few new resources to get the state's unemployed residents back to work.

The Corbett spending plan would reduce corporate taxes. But Evans makes a valid criticism in saying the governor's proposal is unlikely to have the immediate impact that's needed on unemployment. "Where is the actual investment in Pennsylvania's future?" asked Evans.

If approved, the Corbett budget would make debilitating cuts in higher education funding that could lead to higher, unaffordable tuition rates that would effectively cause thousands of college students to forgo the classroom and rush into an already unappealing job market.

Although the state's unemployment rate for December was 7.6 percent, compared with the U.S. rate of 8.5 percent, that still means about 485,000 Pennsylvanians were out of work.

One of the bills in Evans' package would give tax incentives to qualified manufacturers or suppliers who create or retain jobs in Pennsylvania. A manufacturing facility would retain 50 percent of the withholding taxes from any jobs retained for a 10-year period. A supplier would retain all withholding taxes from new jobs for at least three years.

Another Evans bill would provide a 10 percent construction and renovation tax credit for hotels and resorts on the first $500 million spent on construction for three years.

A proposed Renewable Energy Jobs Income Tax Credit bill would provide a $2,000 income-tax credit for up to three years for each renewable-energy job created that remains filled.

The final bill would give a $500 income-tax credit for the creation of "clean energy" jobs for up to five years. Businesses would be allowed a credit for up to 350 new jobs. Virginia passed similar legislation in 2010.

These proposals address the real needs of Pennsylvania's businesses. Harrisburg lawmakers should carefully weigh the bills and figure out which ones merit passage. The state needs to act with more urgency to help its unemployed get back to work.