Unemployment in Pennsylvania is still far too high at 7.9%; in the Valley, it is at 8.6%. Job creation, business recruitment and business retention are the most important issue facing the Allentown area. As a former Urban Revitalization Specialist and someone who works with small businesses on a regular basis, I am the only candidate in this race who can say that I have personally worked with businesses on job recruitment and retention. This experience has given me a unique perspective into changes we need to make to state policy.
As State Representative, I promise to:
* Rebuild and repair our outdated roads, bridges, water systems & sewer systems. Pennsylvania leads the nation with more than 5,200 structurally deficient bridges and more than 7,000 miles of state road in poor condition. I believe that we need to make significant investments in improving these roads and bridges, engaging in private-public partnerships wherever possible and leveraging every available federal funding source. An aggressive program to improve and repairs our roads, bridges, water and sewer systems can create 50,000 new jobs while also increasing Pennsylvania's long-term business competitiveness.
* Targeted tax credits towards businesses that hire those who need jobs the most. Many sectors of our population have been hit harder than others in the recent economic turmoil. As such, I would support the creation of a tax credit, available to any and all businesses, that hired:
o Recent high-school or college graduates
o Long-term unemployed.
* Enhanced funding to Workforce Investment Boards and Small Business Development Center: These two programs are incredibly helpful at putting people back to work, helping them develop new skills and creating new small businesses; yet, at a time when these services were most needed, funding for both programs was slashed in the 2011-2012 Corbett budget. I would fight to restore these cuts and ultimately further enhance both of these programs.
* Pass legislation making it illegal to discriminate based on someone's long-term employment status: In Pennsylvania, it is still legal for an employer to choose not to hire someone simply because they have been unemployed for "too long" -- this is unacceptable, as far too many of our residents have been unemployed for extended periods of time through no fault of their own. As such, I will work towards the passage of legislation that will make it illegal for an employer to choose not to hire someone only because of their unemployment status.