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The Reality of Gov. Corbett’s ‘PA Comeback’

Gov. Corbett remarkably stood before every state senator and representative this week to proclaim that “Pennsylvania’s comeback” is underway. He even credited Pennsylvanians for pulling off the fete.

Governor's BudgetIf the commonwealth’s comeback is underway, the residents of this state do deserve the credit because the policies of this administration have had nothing to do with whatever he thinks that is.

But the numbers strongly suggest the only thing Pennsylvania is doing is, at best, treading water.

Comparing apples to apples: the national unemployment rate fell to 6.6 percent in January, meaning 10.2 million Americans were looking for work. Compared to this time last year, that’s a drop of 2 million folks, or 17 percent fewer people than 12 months ago.

By the number, the national unemployment rate has dropped 2.5 percentage points since 2011. In “The Comeback State,” the decline in unemployment has been much less than half of that: 1.1 percentage points.

I remind you that we finished 2013 by adding just 19,000 new jobs during the year. That unimpressive number makes the “comeback state” 48th in the country for annual percentage employment growth. To top it off, Pennsylvania ranks dead last among all of its neighboring states for percentage employment growth since January 2011. It also is 50th in the category of the 10 largest states for percentage employment growth since January 2011.

Has the governor been taking side trips to Colorado or Washington?

Minimum Wage Governor

In all of the governor’s budget smoke and mirrors, the solid leadership he could have shown was an indication that it is time for the General Assembly to deliver my Senate Bill 858 and Senate Bill 1099 to his desk.

SB 858 would increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage from $7.25/hour to at least $9/hour by 2015. SB 1099 would hike the tipped minimum to 70 percent of whatever the state’s base hourly rate is being paid to our workers.

MoneyThe governor’s continued reluctance to demand an increase in the minimum wage continues to hurt citizens who have to work two or more minimum wage jobs to make ends meet.

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate is 6.9 percent because people who have been trying to find employment have stopped looking out of sheer frustration, not because they have found suitable replacement jobs.

There simply is not a big enough coat to hide the problems of Pennsylvania that have ballooned since Gov. Corbett took office. From job loss, failure to address health care, fiscal health, education, social safety net issues and the minimum wage the problems have spiraled.

As Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster County underscored in its most recent poll, the economy continues to be the most important issue facing this administration and Pennsylvania.

Nearly a third of respondents said unemployment and the economy were the biggest issues. The second biggest issue: education.

Senate Democrats and I have put forward innovative, concrete proposals to address these huge problem areas. I say again that it is time for the governor to do so, too.

Made in PA

HersheyOver the years, candy has become synonymous with Valentine’s Day. Everyone looks forward to sweets from loved ones on this day each year. And, the company best-known for providing us with these treats is the one name in Pennsylvania that is synonymous with candy, especially chocolate: Hershey’s. It all started with a man and his idea to make chocolate affordable for everyone, not solely the wealthy.

Milton Hershey began producing chocolate in Lancaster County in 1894, but he moved his chocolate factory to a larger plot of land in a well-situated area within Derry Township by 1905. His company, The Hershey Foods Corporation, survived war and economic turmoil thanks to hard-working union employees who, today, are members of BCTGM, Local 464.

In times of war, it produced chocolate bars, ration bars and antiaircraft gun parts for the U.S. military. In times of peace, it expanded its product line and productions, buying the H.B. Reese Candy Company and developing new candy products, so that it could maintain profit levels and avoid worker layoffs.

Today, the Hershey Company, which includes the Hershey Foods Corporation, is a multi-billion dollar producer of chocolate and non-chocolate goods that are available around the globe. The Hershey Company’s signature foods, amusement parks and resorts draw hundreds of thousands of tourists from near and far year-round. Pennsylvanians can be proud of this chocolate dynasty housed within their commonwealth, and they can be certain the Hershey name and Hershey’s chocolates will remain a Pennsylvania legacy for years to come.






Hershey budget