ECONOMY AND JOBS
The last three years have been unprecedented. The pandemic, political upheaval, inflation, and international conflict
have all had their toll on the national economy and our own pocketbooks. We can do more to help all Pennsylvanians by
implementing popular and proven programs and policies.
INCREASE THE MINIMUM WAGE
Governor Shapiro has proposed an immediate increase to Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $15 an hour and we stand with him! The
old adage that a rising tide lifts all ships still holds true. An increase to $15 would directly benefit nearly 1.5 million workers, or 25
percent of Pennsylvania workers.
Especially during times of inflation, we must increase the purchasing power of wage-earning Pennsylvanians. Prior to this
inflationary period, the minimum had lost 30 percent of its purchasing power compared to 50 years ago. This is unacceptable in an
economy as strong as ours. We must pass Senate Bill 12 in this legislative session.
INVEST FEDERAL IIJA AND IRA MONEY WISELY
The Pennsylvania Legislature and Governor worked in a bipartisan fashion to thoughtfully and strategically invest the American
Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding last year. We made historic investments in housing, front line worker recruitment and retention,
juvenile and adult mental health programming, and law enforcement and community violence programs. We can do this again with
the massive funding coming from the federal government for infrastructure and energy investments..
FIGHT INFLATION AND PUT PEOPLE OVER PROFITS
It’s clear that a rebounding economy and tight labor markets are causing inflation in the US economy, but big business is taking
advantage of the crisis to jack up prices and hit record profits on the backs of consumers. We must protect people from corporate
inflation by cracking down on price gouging, promoting greater competition in the marketplace, and supporting small businesses
and regional supply chains over international interests. We must fight inflation by eliminating the scarcity of essential commodities
that all people have a right to – housing, energy, and transportation – by building 21st century infrastructure for Americans.
It’s time to:
- Build more middle-class housing
- Build our energy sector away from volatile global fossil fuel markets by investing in renewable energy
- Bring down prescription drug prices and reign in healthcare costs
- Prevent corporate consolidation through strong anti-trust enforcement
- Protect Americans from Price Gouging
PUBLIC SECTOR OSHA COVERAGE
Not all workers in Pennsylvania are treated equally. Our caucus intends to resolve this inequity. The Occupational Health and Safety
Act, commonly referred to as OSHA, covers private sector employees and provides safety and health standards in the workplace
and enforcement mechanisms to ensure the law is followed. However, public sector employees in Pennsylvania are not provided the
same protections as private sector employees and we want that to change. We intend to change this by providing state level OSHA
protections for public sector employees.
MANDATE EARNED SICK LEAVE
Healthy employees are productive employees. We need to ensure that people have time off to take care of themselves and
their families. Choosing between a paycheck and going to the doctor shouldn’t be a choice at all. In addition to the benefits for
employees, earned sick leave leads to fewer sick days for the overall workforce, less turnover, better use of preventive care, and
higher workplace productivity.
END THE PAY GAP
In 2021, women earned 82% of what men earned, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office analysis of median hourly
earnings of both full- and part-time workers. Based on this estimate, it would take an extra 42 days of work for women to earn what
men did in 2020.
In recent years, the pay gap was considerably greater for women in most historically underserved racial and ethnic groups than for
White women, according to the Census Bureau’s published ACS data on full-time workers. For example, for every dollar earned by
White men in 2021:
- Black or African American women earned an estimated 63 cents (a pay gap of 37 cents on the dollar);
- Hispanic or Latina women earned an estimated 58 cents (a pay gap of 42 cents on the dollar);
- White women earned an estimated 79 cents (a pay gap of 21 cents on the dollar); and
- Asian women earned an estimated 97 cents (a pay gap of 3 cents on the dollar).
- We must adopt policies that eliminate the pay gap and lift up the income of all women.
INVEST IN EMPLOYEES
Under our plan the state will provide programs and training to improve the income and conditions of workers. Customized job
training, connecting community colleges and technical schools with employers, improving worker investment board resources,
creating career readiness councils are at the top of our agenda. Improving paychecks, benefits, and working environment is the
heart of the Senate Democrats’ priorities.
- Providing access to high quality childcare will go a long way to providing parents job opportunities that may be unmanageable otherwise. Our caucus is advocating for an increase of $66.7 million for Child Care Services in the 2023-24 budget, so that up to 75,000 low-income families will continue to be enrolled in a subsidized child care program through the Child Care Works Program.
- Availability of high-quality public transit provides access to higher paying jobs, increases worker productivity, and protects family budgets by reducing vehicle and transportation costs. When coupled with transit-oriented development (development occurring within a half miles of transit access) transit reduces traffic, infrastructure costs, and improves local efficiency. The Senate Democrats are ardent supporters of state funding for regional mass transit systems.
END WORKPLACE HARASSMENT, RACISM AND SEXUAL ABUSE
We must empower people in the workplace. Providing safe and equal working conditions is the first step. We will not stand for a
person’s job or promotion to be leveraged for sex. We will not stand for a person’s livelihood to be taken away from them because
they reported workplace harassment.
ENCOURAGE SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AND GROWTH
Small businesses improve the economy from the ground up, create new jobs, and build wealth at the community level. We must
foster an environment that provides small and diverse businesses with opportunities to be establish and grow that have been
previously unattainable. Focused small business loans, access to capital for growth, technical assistance, and employee training
support are on the Senate Democrat agenda.
PROVIDE INCENTIVES TO EXISTING BUSINESSES
Whether it’s to attract national or multi-national corporations, or provide that last bit of financing for a mid-size company to grow,
we must help provide the competitive advantage necessary for Pennsylvania to be business friendly. We have worked hard to
make our tax climate more business friendly including reducing the Corporate Net Income Tax in half over the next few years; we
have provided many tax credits and exemptions to attract and retain companies, but we plan to do more to grow our business
Tax credits and grants to support the most critical sector of Pennsylvania’s past and future will ensure a productive economy with
family sustaining jobs. Whether it’s making sure companies have the capital to grow or the pipeline to find skilled employees, we
must make sure that the Commonwealth is doing all it can to support our manufacturing industry.
STABILIZE AND GROW DISTRESSED COMMUNITIES
Many of our cities and larger municipalities are continuing to struggle with budget deficits and debt, aging infrastructure, and
stagnant economies. The Senate Democrats plans for the larger economy will go a long way toward turning these trends around.
We will also help these communities fight blight by investing in demolition, rehabilitation, and rebuilding, providing technical
assistance for budgeting and financing, providing local tax relief through property tax reform, and strengthen local school districts.
PROVIDE ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE AND HEALTHY HOUSING
The Pennsylvania Senate Democrat have consistently stood for the creation of affordable and accessible housing. We’ve
successfully fought for the creation and increase of funding to the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability Trust Fund. Additionally,
we are pushing for a state low-income housing tax credit to improve the impact of the existing and successful federal credit. In
Pennsylvania, for every $10 million in affordable housing construction, it will generate $19.6 million in total economic impact and
support 110 jobs. With an economic multiplier effect of nearly 2 and the jobs supported, the impact of building and renovating
affordable housing is important to the Pennsylvania economy.
PROVIDE A STATE SOCIAL SECURITY RETIREMENT SUPPLEMENT
Social Security is falling short and the state can step up and help. We should create a state managed retirement fund to supplement
the retirement income provided by social security.