Governor Corbett says that he’s focused on creating jobs in Pennsylvania – but while he's willing to pay a governor's ransom for some jobs, he won't even sign his name to keep others . For those yet-to-be created jobs at the Shell cracker plant, he’s willing to pony up more than half a million dollars for each construction worker brought in to build the plant. But he has turned his back on the 3,000 jobs in Pennsylvania connected to the wind industry and the 4,000 jobs in 750 businesses in the solar industry.
Why isn’t the governor in every arena possible scrapping for those 12,000 existing jobs and standing up for the families those jobs sustain? He’s had the chance. In December, he removed his name from the Governor’s Wind Coalition letter urging Congress to extend the production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy. He opposes a minor adjustment to the state’s solar energy standard that would help even out the supply of solar energy with the demand.
The failure of Congress to pass the PTC has led to the cancellation of major wind projects in Pennsylvania. And now, Gamesa, a wind company that manufactures turbine blades and other wind turbine components has announced 165 layoffs at its two plants in the state, one in Ebensburg in Cambria County and another in Fairless Hills in Bucks County. The governor has not called on the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation to take action to save those jobs. He has not expressed any concern for the loss of those 165 paychecks.
Shell is holding Pennsylvania state government for ransom as it plays the Commonwealth against Ohio and West Virginia for the cracker plant. The governor has gladly conceded to any demand by the company. He has put all his job creation eggs in the natural gas basket. The tax credit legislation passed with the budget gives Shell a nickel tax credit for each gallon of ethane it purchases to produce ethylene at the future cracker plant. There is no limit on the size of the credit that Shell will get. The only accountability built into the legislation to ensure jobs materialize is a requirement for somebody to produce 2,500 jobs during construction of the plant.
The original cracker tax credit concept put a limit of $1.7 billion in tax credits for Shell. At that level, the per job taxpayer subsidy for 2,500 construction workers would be $680,000. And those probably will not be Shell employees but workers of the contractors who will build the plant.
$680,000 would keep lots of teachers, policemen and fire fighters on the job. Ten of those $680,000 subsidies would keep all 165 people at the Gamesa plants working at a salary of about $41,000.
Every job loss puts the former worker’s family in economic distress. The loss of income hurts other local businesses. In the case of public workers, those job losses diminish education and public safety. Every job matters, especially the ones that are already here.