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In Pittsburgh, Shapiro outlines plan to make Pennsylvania more business friendly

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks with members of the media during a news conference in Darby, Pa., Wednesday, June 2, 2021. Chaim "Charlie" Steg, who oversaw a suburban Philadelphia nursing home pleaded no contest Wednesday, June 2, 2021, to endangering three residents who before dying suffered health complications because of inadequate staffing levels, prosecutors said.
Matt Rourke
Democratic Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is running for governor against Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano. Shapiro announced his economic plan in Lackawanna County Monday.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro campaigned in Lawrenceville Wednesday on his plan to attract business to Pennsylvania. The state attorney general said his strategy would capitalize on high-tech work already happening locally in the biotech, robotics and autonomous vehicle industries.

“This is where we're going to create the jobs of tomorrow,” Shapiro said. “And we need a governor who can figure out how to harness that, who’s going to stand up to the other states that are trying to take away our jobs and say, ‘No, no, no, we're keeping those jobs here. We're creating more jobs of tomorrow, so that is job number one as governor.”

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Shapiro spoke with reporters at the Butler Street co-working space, Field Day, after meeting with staff at the Pittsburgh Robotics Network. Democratic Pittsburgh mayor Ed Gainey, state Rep. Emily Kinkead and state Sen. Wayne Fontana also participated in the session.

Shapiro unveiled his economic plan in Lackawanna County Monday. It would establish an office of economic growth and workforce development to help companies navigate regulations as they seek to locate or expand in Pennsylvania.

Shapiro said the state’s licensing and permitting rules are too time-consuming, often requiring companies to engage with several different agencies.

“Maybe they're going to [the Department of Community and Economic Development] for a tax credit. Maybe they're going to the Department of Environmental Protection for a permit. Maybe they have to go over to PennDOT in order to build some structure or change a roadway,” he said.

The proposed office would function as a one-stop shop for businesses, he said. It would host an online portal where businesses can manage different government approval processes.

Shapiro's plan also proposes lowering the corporate net income tax rate to 4% by 2025 — a bigger cut and faster timeline than lawmakers approved earlier this month. They voted to reduce the levy by 1% in 2023 to 8.99%, phasing down by another 0.5% each year until reaching 4.99% in 2031.

Shapiro’s Republican opponent, state Senator Doug Mastriano, supported that measure. His campaign did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday, and he hasn’t shared a thorough economic development agenda like Shapiro’s.

Mastriano's campaign website indicates that, in addition to cutting corporate taxes, he supports slashing regulations and investing in coal and natural gas.

Shapiro said he also supports the state’s natural gas industry as a source of jobs and affordable energy. But he also pledged to enact legislation under which 30% of energy generated in Pennsylvania would come from renewable sources by 2030. Shapiro also proposed a goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

On Wednesday, he said he would lobby the Biden Administration to choose Pennsylvania as the home of one of the hydrogen hubs it plans to designate across the country. Hydrogen is an alternative fuel that can be made from natural gas and steam. Some environmental groups argue that while it can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it still relies on fossil fuels and is an inefficient power source.

Shapiro’s plan also includes increased investment in vocational and technical schools, apprenticeship programs and other job training initiatives. It says the Democrat would eliminate four-year college degree requirements for thousands of state government jobs.

Corrected: July 28, 2022 at 7:30 AM EDT
This story has been updated to include parts of Doug Mastriano's platform related to the economy.