Pennsylvania’s voters will head to the polls on November 6 to decide whether to give Democrat Tom Wolf another four years or to elect Republican Scott Wagner, a state senator, to the governor’s office. Here, the Manufacturer & Business Association’s Government Affairs Department asks the candidates to share their thoughts on economic growth and taxes in the Keystone State.
Please explain to our membership why your administration will be the best choice for business growth in Pennsylvania? What specific effort will be made to make Pennsylvania more economically competitive?
Wagner: Pennsylvanians have two choices in this year’s gubernatorial election: 1) elect me, who will ensure favorable policies are implemented to bring forth long-term economic growth, or 2) allow the current administration to continue to push forward a punishing tax agenda that will stall economic growth and make it difficult for Pennsylvania to be a successful economic powerhouse in the Northeast. Overregulation and over-taxation stalls economic growth and leads to companies seeking a better business climate elsewhere. I will remove these crippling taxes and overabundant regulations, ensuring that the inefficient and unnecessary bureaucracy will no longer be permitted to interfere in Pennsylvania’s economic growth at any level. I am committed to improving Pennsylvania’s economy and understand that a state as diverse as Pennsylvania faces different regional challenges but that those regions also provide unique opportunities for growth. A Wagner economic development plan will contain opportunities for the Commonwealth as a whole, not just the major population centers.
Wolf: Since Day One, I have made “Jobs that Pay” a priority in Pennsylvania. I have traveled the Commonwealth, hearing from business owners, industry leaders and hardworking Pennsylvanians statewide about what my administration can do to help them thrive.
When I entered office, Pennsylvania faced a chronic $2.5-billion deficit while its job growth ranked 50th among all states. This year, Pennsylvania made its first transfer to the Rainy Day Fund in a decade and its job growth ranking has improved to the top 20. And I finally eliminated the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax on businesses.
As a former business owner, I know we must make new investments in 21st century manufacturing and refocus our economic development dollars and strategies. The Commonwealth can help set the table for robust private sector growth to create and retain good jobs while strengthening the middle class.
Across Pennsylvania, the need for skilled workers is high. I have encouraged more training, workforce development and apprenticeship programs. I recently developed the PASmart program that provides funding for workforce development for Pennsylvanians of all ages and computer science in schools.
I am going to keep fighting for commonsense policies that enable Pennsylvania businesses to succeed, such as eliminating burdensome taxes on businesses like the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax, and continue to bolster Pennsylvania’s attractive economic climate for both small and large businesses statewide.
Pennsylvanians currently pay $4,589 per person in state and local taxes and over the last decade and a half, total state spending growth has outpaced the economy. Some have proposed restraining spending growth through long-term reforms like the Taxpayer Protection Act (TPA). What are your thoughts on the TPA?
Wagner: I support long-term reforms like the Taxpayer Protection Act to ensure Pennsylvanians are protected from excessive governmental spending. Pennsylvania citizens deserve a government that will be focused on results, and I will be a governor who will drive results, not just issue press releases. Harrisburg’s spending and financial mismanagement problem has led to unbalanced budgets and a complete failure to protect Pennsylvanians from tax increases. A balanced approach in how we tax and spend in Pennsylvania is non-negotiable. This goes to a fundamental problem I plan to tackle as governor — a top-down reform of our tax code. Our current tax code has been written by lobbyists, lawyers and consultants. It is past time that our tax code benefit the citizens of Pennsylvania, and I will be a governor who looks for every opportunity to do so, including protective mechanisms such as the Taxpayer Protection Act.
Wolf: I have been the leader in Harrisburg for reducing expenditures and restraining spending as demonstrated through my phase-out of the onerous Capital Stock and Franchise Tax. My efforts have led to more than $2 billion in total savings in the state budget. This year, Pennsylvania made its first transfer to the Rainy Day Fund in a decade and its job growth ranking has improved from 50th to the top 20.