Op-Ed By Senator Nick Miller
The Lehigh Valley is stronger when we work together. By building consensus, we collaborate to make strategies that lead the community to continued success. As your state senator, I am committed to doing that, prioritizing investing in education, economic development, and community safety.
Education has always been a passion of mine. From my time on the local school board to my first nine months in office, I have continued to advocate for the importance of adequate funding and not at extra costs to local property taxpayers, especially our veterans and seniors. The way we currently fund our public education system is unconstitutional, as ruled by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, and leaves our poorest communities behind. We should provide every student with access to a quality education in safe facilities conducive to learning. Every dollar invested in public education is a down payment on a quality workforce of the future, ensuring Pennsylvania is a strong economic contender for generations to come. We must continue to invest in our teachers, providing sufficient supplies, addressing toxic schools filled with lead and asbestos, and strengthening the teacher workforce pipeline.
The Lehigh Valley has about 15,000 businesses, and 90% of those have fewer than 20 employees. Clearly, small businesses are the backbone of our community, and they need support from all levels of government, including additional access to capital and opportunities to innovate and expand.
As the Senate Democratic Finance Committee chair, I voted to reduce Pennsylvania’s Corporate Net Income tax further to spur more job creation. I recently introduced two pieces of legislation to revitalize the state’s Industrial Sites Reuse program and the Business in Our Sites program. These programs provide grant and loan opportunities for blighted or vacant industrial buildings, as well as land already zoned for development. It includes support for environmental remediation, which protects your constitutional right to clean air and water. This approach saves our green space and farmland by utilizing already developed parcels. I will work with local partners and municipalities to identify blight and develop plans to address it to help our community develop stronger economic ties and hold absentee landlords accountable.
I’ve also cosponsored a bill to reduce or eliminate business start-up fees to help small businesses, an extension of Act 35 of 2022, which already provides this for veteran-owned and reservist-owned small businesses. Senate Bill 663 would add women-owned, service-disabled, minority-owned, and disadvantaged businesses to the list. Another proposal I support is Senate Bill 664, providing small business tax-deferred savings accounts. We must continue to help small businesses succeed.
Every family and community member deserves safe and clean neighborhoods. During my first budget, I advocated for additional funding for the state police to support our local police. We delivered on that advocacy with an increase of nearly 8% in state police funding, at $1.6 billion.
Keeping our police forces staffed and trained will ensure they are well-equipped to face daily issues. Adding in training about mental health crises, reducing physical altercations, and communicating with the community will benefit everyone. I recently introduced a bill to address the rise in ATV/dirt bikes on our community roads, causing safety and quality of life concerns. Groups of these riders drive through urban and suburban municipalities with little regard for the safety of drivers, children, bikers, or law enforcement. We need to penalize those who disregard safety measures when utilizing ATVs or dirt bikes, and we are hopeful this legislation will pass in the fall.
Lastly, gun violence has continued to plague our area. We are not alone in this, but it is an issue we need to address. I believe that improving our education system, investing in youth sports, and building community programs will help young people in our area stay away from violence and on a continued path to success.
My team and I are committed to serving our community and the entire commonwealth of Pennsylvania and can be contacted at Miller@PASenate.com.