By Jim Dino
The best way for Pennsylvania to create economic development opportunities is to reallocate its financial resources and enable business taxes to be cut, lieutenant governor candidate Jim Cawley said.
He also said the issue of municipal consolidation - now before the General Assembly - should be decided by the people, not state government.
Cawley, a Bucks County commissioner and the Republican candidate for the state's second-highest office, was in Hazleton on a campaign stop Tuesday.
"Government doesn't create jobs, small business and entrepreneurs create jobs," he said. "Government sets the table for job creation by being a partner with small business and entrepreneurs."
To be a good partner, Pennsylvania has to get rid of its high business taxes, which are killing economic development in the state, Cawley said.
"The corporate net income tax, at 9.9 percent, is one of the highest in the nation," he said. "The capital stock and franchise tax was scheduled for elimination, but that was stayed. That has to be put back on track (for elimination). The inheritance (death) tax is hurting the agriculture industry. We have to eliminate the death tax and send the signal that Pennsylvania is open for business."
Business taxes can be reduced by taking a hard look at where Pennsylvania spends its money, Cawley said.
"In the last seven years, Pennsylvania's budget has grown 40 percent," he said. "That money is going somewhere. Rather than enhancing our revenues by tolling (Interstate 80), we have to look at where our money is going in Harrisburg."
Cawley has proposed a comprehensive examination of state government spending, department by department.
"We have to go to each department, and have them prove to us, dollar by dollar, their need," Cawley said. "We have to make sure they are doing the job they are supposed to be doing, but they have to prove their needs. Then we can reprioritize the money in the available budget, and manage it more wisely, like improving economic development programs."
Cawley said he doesn't support state-imposed government consolidation in Pennsylvania, but rather letting the people of each municipality decide their own fate.
"Consolidation cannot, should not, and must not be mandated by Harrisburg," Cawley said. "If local municipalities want to pool their resources - like forming a regional police department - that decision should be up to them. The state can provide the resources, particularly the financial resources, through the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
"If consolidation is mandated by Harrisburg, it is destined to fail."
Cawley said the Penn Ridge Regional Police Department in upper Bucks County has succeeded because "they (the three municipalities in it) made the decision themselves" to form and operate the department.
Cawley noted a previous lieutenant governor, Mark Schweiker, and he have several similarities.
"We're both from Levittown, and went to the same high school," Cawley said. "He was a Bucks County commissioner before lieutenant governor. I even have the same office he had when he was a commissioner."