Corman speaks at Lewistown Rotary meeting

Sentinel photo by BRADLEY KREITZER
Senator Jake Corman answers questions at the weekly Rotary Club of Lewistown meeting Tuesday afternoon at the Rec Park Community Center in Lewistown.

LEWISTOWN — Senator Jake Corman was the guest speaker at the Rotary Club of Lewistown’s weekly meeting Tuesday afternoon and he gave a report of what is going on in the state capital.

“Actually, things are a little better, which is nice to hear,” Corman said. “The economy is doing well.”

Corman said the way Pennsylvania generates revenue is based on the economy. Income tax, sales tax and corporate profits all generate revenue, which can fluctuate up and down. Right now, the state has a record low of unemployment and a record high in employment.

“More importantly, we have a record high in payroll,” Corman said. “People aren’t just being employed, they are making money.” This puts the state in a position to go over their estimated revenue by almost a billion dollars for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

When the economy turned around from the 2008 recession, Harrisburg wanted to make Pennsylvania a place where companies wanted to do business and grow current businesses. “I think we were successful in that and we’re benefiting from that,” Corman said. “But we still have challenges.

One of the challenges Corman mentioned is the need to build back the state’s reserves. Low reserves can affect bond ratings and can cost more when the state borrows money.

“We are going to continue the practice of being conservative in our spending, but at the same time build up our reserve with a lot of our surplus that is coming in this year,” Corman noted. He also said he hopes Harrisburg can pass a budget in a timely fashion this year while being at, or less than, what Governor Tom Wolf proposes.

“The good news is the economy has changed and people are working. That’s a positive,” Corman said. “We still have challenges.”

Corman said a lot of the challenges are based on population demographic. Over the last 30 to 40 years, the care of the elderly has shifted from the responsibility of the family to the responsibility of the government. Another factor in the changing demographic is that residents are having fewer children than in the past. This, factored in with the rise in life expectancy, may put Pennsylvania in a position where there will be more residents in the senior citizen status and less residents to support them with revenue generated through taxes.

Another challenge Corman addressed is the higher education institutions.

“We’ve been looking around on how we fill those populations, how do we fill our classrooms,” Corman said. He stated Pennsylvania already sees the system of higher education, especially with rural schools that are struggling with enrollment. Corman also noted even the branch campuses of some the of the larger institutions are being affected.

Corman added the population demographic can be bolstered by immigration and economic expansion.

“Pennsylvania becomes such a great place to do business that more and more people come in to locate their jobs, so then people move to Pennsylvania to fill those jobs,” Corman said. “Short of that, we’re going to be looking at a population demographic that’s going to provide us with significant challenges that we’ll have to meet.”

Corman said the state still has issues with workforce training and one of the things he’s done as a senator is work with vocational education schools in the community.

“They provide such a tremendous service and a workforce that we need to attract employers,” he said.

Corman said his report was overall positive and things are in good condition.

“I expect us to have the budget to be done on time, if not earlier, and I’m looking forward to working with the governor for the next few years to try and improve Pennsylvania.”