From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
“’I was joking with some of the young people that we really actually need them to move in,’ said Daley (D., Montgomery), ‘because we all expect to retire at some point and we need someone to continue paying the taxes.’
“Her humorous comments at the Thursday event spoke to a harsh and potentially costly reality: Pennsylvanians are getting older, more expensive — and less taxable.
“The state’s senior population is growing at a rate 20 times faster than Pennsylvania’s overall population. By 2025, more than one in five Pennsylvania residents will be 65 or older, according to population projections from the U.S. Census and the Pennsylvania State Data Center, while the numbers of people below the traditional retirement age decreases.” (Emphasis added.)
What is behind the slow and steady demographic shift in Pennsylvania’s population? To answer that question, we must consider another: why do younger people leave the Commonwealth?
Simply put, it’s because Pennsylvania has adopted anti-job policies over the course of decades and failed to adapt to a changing economy. People won’t stay in a place where they can’t earn a living. Instead of adopting broad-based pro-growth policies, politicians in Harrisburg have instead opted for a series of economic development policies that are little more than corporate welfare and central planning. The state legislature has compounded the problem by blunting the impact of positive changes at the national level through instituting changes in the Commonwealth that make us less attractive to job creators.
A perfect example of this took place quietly in December. In the wake of significant tax reforms at the federal level designed to spur investment and job growth, the Wolf administration enacted policy changes that will make investments in Pennsylvania less attractive. The changes were summarized by the PA Manufacturers Association:
“In the quiet of the Friday before Christmas, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue published a policy change covering depreciation of capital investments that marks a 180-degree reversal from a 2011 change made under the Corbett Administration. Governor Tom Wolf is doing an end-around a General Assembly that for nearly four years has held fast against his yearly quest for tax increases…Under the change, Pennsylvania businesses will overpay hundreds of millions in taxes, endure greater administrative burdens by having separate state and federal compliance records, and, as an outlier among states with this new policy, lose out on capital investments the federal changes were enacted to encourage.” (Emphasis added.)
High taxes and an unattractive regulatory environment have plagued Pennsylvania for a generation. Until the Governor and General Assembly recognize that fixes to broader policies and not new corporate welfare programs are the solution, Pennsylvania’s biggest export will continue to be working-age adults seeking a brighter future.