Yudichak wants economic stimulus programs expanded

State Sen. John Yudichak serves District 14, which includes Carbon and part of Luzerne Counties.
State Sen. John Yudichak serves District 14, which includes Carbon and part of Luzerne Counties. | Courtesy of Sen. John Yudichak

State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Dist. 14) sees 2015 as the year to expand the Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) and Keystone Opportunity Zone Expansion (KOZE) programs.

“The northeast has the highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania,” Yudichak told Pennsylvania Business Daily.

The KOZ program has created thousands of jobs in the Hazleton area, where it has seen the best success. “The program has created 10,000 to 12,000 jobs in a decade. We haven’t seen numbers like that,” Yudichak said.

Yudichak said another priority for the Pennsylvania Senate is the continued investment in the transportation bill that was passed in the 2013-2014 legislative session.

“There needs to be a companion piece that hopefully looks at water and sewer,” Yudichak said. “We also need to expand natural gas capacity, but to do that, we need to upgrade a sewer system that hasn’t been upgraded in a century,” he said.

With Governor-elect Tom Wolf about to be inaugurated, Yudichak said there will be a greater understanding of what the business community faces.

“The governor is a businessman. He comes from the private sector, as an entrepreneur, and he, more than any other governor, will understand that the right tax policy and the right investment strategy will help the economy,” Yudichak said.

That tax policy must be targeted, and work must be done to increase public-private investment. “Public investment primes the pump, and private investment drives jobs,” Yudichak said.

When it comes to Wolf’s personal income tax plan, Yudichak said he believed a constitutional amendment might be required for a progressive tax plan. “We need to get together and focus on how do we modernize the tax code so that it is fair,” Yudichak said. “Taxes should not be punitive.”

To keep the impact fee in place and work with Wolf’s proposed 5 percent severance tax on natural gas drilling, Yudichak said legislators must make adjustments. “We need to go back into systems and get to added value, to find a number where the impact fee stays in place. We need to get to a point where taxes aren’t punitive to the natural gas industry,” Yudichak said.

Looking back, Yudichak said the piece of legislation from the 2013-2014 session that will have a lasting impact on life in Pennsylvania is the transportation bill.

“The transportation bill is the significant achievement of the Corbett administration,” Yudichak said. “This will be a lasting legacy -- it was a bipartisan effort to invest in job creation in Pennsylvania. Everyone is for Pennsylvania residents to make a living wage.”