HARRISBURG — Governor Tom Wolf unveiled his administration’s “Back to Work PA” plan to bolster economic recovery efforts and position Pennsylvania for economic growth after being hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plan, part of the governor’s 2021 legislative initiatives, would be funded by an extraction tax on the natural gas industry, which would allow for an injection of $3 billion to enhance existing initiatives and create new, innovative programs to address barriers that are holding back our workforce, according to a news release.
“Pennsylvania needs a comprehensive, forward-thinking plan to jumpstart our economy and support our workforce,” Wolf said. “Back to Work PA will make strategic and comprehensive investments to build a stronger and more diverse workforce, support Pennsylvania businesses while attracting businesses to the commonwealth, and assist communities with economic recovery efforts – all of which will help us get back on track and build a brighter future for Pennsylvania.”
To build a stronger and more diverse workforce, the plan would support workers most significantly impacted by the pandemic, address inequities, direct resources to support talent development for high-demand occupations, and focus on high-quality well-paying jobs that lead to careers with family-sustaining wages, the release states.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has hurt our communities and businesses, and we cannot stall on taking bold, strategic action to expedite a faster recovery,” said Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin. “Bolstering our workforce benefits our economy—and by extension, our communities—and Back to Work PA would provide the critical funding necessary to address Pennsylvania’s needs both now and in the future.”
The initiative would also support and attract businesses, and invest in making high-speed internet access available to all Pennsylvanians by building out the infrastructure in unserved areas.
“We know that no two jobs are exactly the same, no two workers are exactly the same, and no two businesses are exactly the same. The individualized services in the governor’s Back to Work PA plan connect job seekers to the education or training that will set them up for success in the labor market, while also helping businesses connect to the skilled workforce they need to thrive,” said Department of Labor & Industry Acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier. “By making these smart investments now, we can build up our workforce to make Pennsylvania’s workers the most in-demand in the country as we emerge into the new post-pandemic world.”
Since the start of the pandemic, the Wolf administration has provided more than $670 million in relief to businesses and non-profits in addition to support programs such as the Paycheck Protection; most recently, $145 million to provide much-needed immediate relief to the hospitality industry.
“Our businesses need the immediate relief that these funds will provide, but we also need long-term solutions,” Gov. Wolf said. “Getting Pennsylvania back on track after the pandemic means investing in the businesses and workers that drive our economy and developing a sustainable solution to support long-term economic recovery. Back to Work PA will foster economic recovery by investing in our businesses, our workers, and our communities.”
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