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Sen. Mario Scavello Discusses Budget, Economic Development at LVEDC Event

By Colin McEvoy on October 30, 2015

Pennsylvania Senator Mario Scavello speaking at LVEDC's Conversation and Cocktails event.

Pennsylvania Senator Mario Scavello speaking at LVEDC’s Conversation and Cocktails event.

Pennsylvania Senator Mario Scavello spoke to a standing-room-only audience of community leaders and business professionals during the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation’s (LVEDC) final Conversation and Cocktails event of the year.

Scavello discussed the importance of investing in infrastructure, the regional workforce, the Pennsylvania budget impasse, and many other topics during the Nov. 29 event. He also praised small businesses as the “backbone” of the regional economy.

“You guys create the jobs in the communities,” Scavello told the crowd at the Nazareth Center for the Arts. “What we at government want to do is help get out of the way and let you operate.”

Scavello was elected to the Pennsylvania in 2014 after having served 12 years in the state House of Representatives. He represents Pennsylvania’s 40th District, which includes portions of Northampton and Monroe counties.

Scavello said the region has a strong workforce and the ability to train workers with strong educational facilities, something many other communities lack. But he also believes more students should be encouraged to attend technical schools and pursue trade careers like welders, carpenters, plumbers, and electricians, which are in high-demand and will provide good wages.

“We’re going to need about 400,000 welders in this country in the next four years,” he said. “Those are jobs that aren’t going to leave this area, that aren’t going to go to China or anywhere else, and I don’t think we’re doing a good enough job of reaching out to these kids and letting them know about those opportunities.”

LVEDC President and CEO Don Cunningham introducing the event.

LVEDC President and CEO Don Cunningham introducing the event.

Regarding the state budget, Scavello criticized Gov. Tom Wolf for vetoing a budget that Republican majorities in the House and Senate had approved, as well as for rejecting a temporary “stop-gap” budget so schools and social service agencies could receive funding until a comprehensive budget agreement is complete.

Scavello said the Republican-passed budget proposal included 274 line items, mostly similar to what Wolf was seeking, but that Wolf vetoed the entire budget rather than using the line-item veto on specific items and keeping most of the budget intact.

“Look, I want to see a budget, I want to see it tomorrow, but it has to be done right,” said Scavello, who noted the state faces a pension shortfall of about $53 billion that has to be addressed.

Scavello also said he opposes a Marcellus Shale gas severance tax because he would rather see the drilling companies invest in infrastructure improvements, which would benefit everyone. He also noted the Marcellus Shale already generates about $235 million a year that goes to all Pennsylvania counties, particularly those directly affected.

“We can go ahead and put a tax on it, but I’m going to tell you something, you’ll all be paying for it,” he said. “… If coal was taxed in the early 1900s, all the emerging industries we have would have been affected.”

The Conversation and Cocktails series allows LVEDC investors a unique opportunity to have targeted interaction with members of the Lehigh Valley’s legislative body in an intimate setting to discuss pressing economic issues.

This event was made possible by the support of our Conversation and Cocktails series sponsor, Air Products.

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