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USA Workforce Tax Credit

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Previously I wrote about the NY Times opinion piece, “Should the Fed Guarantee You a Job?”, the article proposed a government-funded program that would guarantee participants government jobs. Read my response “Back to Work – Job Guarantee”. With this past year being devastating to many American businesses and families, finding ways to provide new employment opportunities is crucial to our country’s economic recovery. I proposed that we merge the Work Opportunity Tax Credit and the Educational Income Tax Credit (found in Pennsylvania) to create a new tax credit solution for training skilled workers. What if a business or individual could contribute to a 501(c)(3) organization that provides job training services to low-income households and receive a tax credit for it? It would allow low-income families to learn a skill necessary for steady income provided through private-sector work. You don’t have to search very hard to observe that we have a shortage of skilled trade labor in our country. Could this solution also help us close that gap?

Congressman Smucker of PA’s 11th district, who serves on the Ways and Means Committee, sponsored a bill, HR 1739 – “USA Workforce Tax Credit Act” in the 2019-2020 session, which aimed to address workforce development and apprenticeship training. In addition to Congressman Smucker, Mr. Mooney of West Virginia, Ms. Stefanik, Mr. Budd, Mr. Gaetz, Mr. Collins of New York, Mrs. Lesko, and Mr. Kustoff of Tennessee introduced the bill. This bill should be presented to congress again as it is the right time for such action. In this bill, businesses or individuals would receive a tax credit for a contribution to qualifying workforce development or apprenticeship training organizations. The bill functions similarly to the EITC program, which has been very successful in Pennsylvania. If the bill doesn’t make it through federally, I would love to see it implemented in Pennsylvania.

What is a workforce development or apprenticeship training program?

A Workforce Development or Apprenticeship Training organization could include

  • Community Colleges
  • Workforce Training Programs (defined by State workforce agencies)
  • Organizations that provide career and technical education
  • Organizations that provide training or apprenticeships
  • Community organizations that provide full certified training
  • Private schools that confer diplomas, degrees, or certify completion of certain grades

What is a scholarship granting organization?

A scholarship granting organization is a qualified elementary or secondary education organization whose exclusive purpose is to provide tuition scholarships for eligible student’s qualified expenses. This organization provides scholarships to more than one student and different students attending more than one school.

How do you qualify?

The only requirement for eligible participants is to be enrolled in a workforce or apprenticeship training organization as previously outlined. To qualify for a scholarship from an educational organization, the recipient must be a household member whose combined income is below 200% of the median gross income as determined by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. In 2019 the median household income was $68,703.

How does this benefit Americans?

This proposed bill’s primary benefit is to help fund programs that provide training for the many skilled and workforce jobs that need to be filled in America. Not only does a business or individual benefit from the tax credit received, but the participants in these programs also gain access to opportunities they may not have been able to afford otherwise. Getting a person into a job right away that provides learning as they work is critical to advancement and growth. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, “nearly 9 out of 10 apprentices are employed after completing their apprenticeship.” They also start their new employment with an average salary of $70,000 per year. To find out more about apprenticeships and training opportunities in PA visit Pennsylvania CareerLink.

In addition to apprenticeships, this bill also enables families, who may not have afforded it otherwise, to send their kids to good schools to receive a quality education and put them on the path towards a financially sustainable career. Programs like EITC in Pennsylvania, which this bill was modeled after, provide scholarship opportunities for families to send their kids to the school of their choice. Because EITC allows businesses to differ tax dollars to scholarship and educational improvement organizations, they can choose the good schools that get these additional donations, creating better competition resulting in better education. In a free-market society, competition pushes products to improve. The same is true in education. Where there is no competition, there is no incentive for improvement.

The government’s role is not to provide financial resources for the people. Its role is to promote opportunity so that a person who applies hard work and discipline can achieve financial stability and success. This bill creates the opportunity for United States citizens to get jobs and gain the experience and training needed to reach financial stability through solid employment. With time and hard work, this common-sense approach will build a more stable long-term economy. The key is getting people willing to work into jobs.

Separation of Church and State

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Does separation of church and state mean separation of religion from politics? The 1st Amendment is often cited as the source for free speech and religious freedom. It simply states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” To understand the intention that men like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison had when drafting this Amendment, we must first look at the church’s history in England and New England.

History of a State Church

The following is by no means an exhaustive look at the history of state curches, but we’d have to go back even more centuries to expound the topic entirely. Let’s start by looking at the few hundred years that led to the Puritan migration to New England and the formation of the 1st Amendment. 

Many believe that in the early 1500s, Henry VIII (the one with many wives) established the independent Church of England when the Pope refused to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. In 1534 Henry VIII pushed the English Parliament to pass the “Act of Supremacy,” which recognized the king as the “Supreme Head of the Church of England.” This act was later repealed but then readopted during Elizabeth I’s reign in 1559. During the 16th century, a group known as the Puritans tried to purify both the Church of England’s structure and practices. Interestingly, these puritans believed that the civil authorities’ duties were to enforce the laws of religion. As many thought the Puritans had gone far enough, in the 17th century, they faced persecution under King James I and his son Charles I. Even though this persecution pushed the Puritans to immigrate to the Americas; they were not religiously tolerant. They still believed in a state church, just with their reforms applied. As more immigrants came to New England, the Puritans were intolerant and opposed these new religious beliefs. This intolerance led the Constitution’s framers to use the 1st Amendment to prohibit a national religious establishment that once existed in the original colonies. 

Actions Only & Not Opinions

The original intention of the 1st Amendment was to prevent the intolerance of people based on their religious beliefs by not allowing the government to define an established national religion. However, the Amendment does not prevent individuals from using their religious beliefs to influence their policies. In the United States of America, any person, regardless of religious opinion, can influence policy so long as that policy doesn’t prohibit the “free exercise” of religion. Thomas Jefferson wrote his thoughts on the matter in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802. He wrote,

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.”

Thomas Jefferson

Many today use the “separation of church and state” as an argument for dismissing a Biblical worldview from our government and their controlled institutions. While a Supreme Court Judge is accountable for interpreting the law as written, a Legislator is responsible for representing the people who elected them with their views and policies presented during their election campaign. There is certainly room within the legislative and executive branches of government for a Biblical worldview to influence policy. I would argue that the inclusion of a Biblical worldview is beneficial for the people; it’s also vital to a nation’s success.

How Christian Values benefit a culture

While Christian faith shouldn’t be forced upon people through legislation, the benefits from Christians representing a Biblical worldview within politics are beneficial for all people. Unfortunately, Christians often do themselves and those around them a disservice by their demeaning and hypocritical actions. Christians must remember that all people have sinned and fallen short of what God demands. However, the Bible doesn’t just show what God opposes; it also shows what God proposes. Many people only hear about what God is against; they never hear what God has proposed for life to work best. The Bible presents solutions to family problems, racism, violence, and the treatment of all people.

It’s important to know what God opposes and what God proposes. Christians often fall short here, and I can be guilty of this too. We are quick to say what God opposes, but we miss following it up with what God proposes. For example, when it comes to abortion, God opposes it. But what does God propose? God proposes that a man leaves his father and mother and be joined to his wife as one flesh. The Bible proposes abstinence, that sex is to be between a husband and wife. Why? Because God who created us knows the consequences of these actions. Destroyed lives and broken families lead to physical, mental, social, and economic devastation. In our society, abortion is an issue because we’ve walked away from how God designed us to work best as a husband and wife together. One man and one woman joined together in a commitment before God. A Christian should be opposed to abortion, but promote strong marriages, reinforce the value of family as God intended it. When these are broken, we need to be loving and seek restoration. We can’t look to legislation to cure the problem of sin. Nevertheless, legislation can protect the dignity of human life, whether that is an unborn child or a biologically male or female created in God’s image as well as the sanctity of marriage as God designed it.

I believe Christians must influence our country’s laws because of the benefit the country receives by doing life God’s way. We take the freedoms we have in this country for granted, and if we have an opportunity to defend them, we should seek that. Just as the Lord said to Israel through Jeremiah when they were in exile in Babylon, “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” 

I Said This From the Beginning

Reading Time: 3 minutes

As we approach the 1 year anniversary of the “2-week quarantine”, let’s talk about the pandemic. In March of 2020, we didn’t know what we were facing with COVID-19. As a result, our country shut down for 2 weeks to analyze and allow hospitals to prepare and not be overwhelmed. While we are a country of independent-minded people, the country, willingly or not, paused for what was supposed to be 2 weeks. During the lockdown, hospitals lost money and had to lay off staff which created a shortage when we needed them. Here we are a year later, with many states (mine included) still in a lockdown state resulting in economic and emotional depression.

Our country, though not perfect, is blessed to have been founded by individuals with great wisdom and insight to form a government with balanced power and anti-monarchical states. We are structured for balance within the federal government by three branches, and power is distributed to the states. These tiers of government, federal, state, and local, allow for the adoption of laws and policies uniquely beneficial to the regions they represent. What works in California may not work in Pennsylvania.

Back to Work – Job Guarantee

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In a recent Gallup poll, 93% of Americans said they favor a national initiative that creates paid work and job training opportunities as a component of COVID-19 economic recovery efforts.

This past year has been devastating for many American businesses and families financially. With government-mandated lockdowns, unemployment has risen as businesses reduced their labor force or closed completely. We can argue on whether or not the lockdown mandates were necessary. Still, no matter which side of the argument you are on, it doesn’t change the fact that the lockdowns contributed to the current economic crisis we face in America.

Last week the NY Times wrote an article titled, “Should the Fed Guarantee You a Job?”. This isn’t the first time this idea has been proposed, but it is becoming highlighted due to the mass amounts of jobs lost from the pandemic. The current proposal is that the federal government would provide taxpayer-funded training for low-income or unemployed households. At the end of the training, participants would be guaranteed government jobs.

Our Next Governor

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Regardless of political affiliation, I think we can all agree the next governor of Pennsylvania has some work to do to restore our Commonwealth to its economic potential. Whether you think it was caused by the pandemic, poor leadership, or a combination of the two, arguing about why we are here doesn’t change the fact that we are here, and that changes are necessary for long-term sustainability and growth.

While we tend to follow the people who are good at getting our emotions stirred up, this type of person, in my opinion, is not who would be best as our next governor. Our next governor needs to be someone who provides stable leadership with humility and integrity, speaks truth graciously, and isn’t motivated by the position of power. They need to be willing to listen to Pennsylvanians all across the state and make difficult decisions that are for the betterment of the Commonwealth, not necessarily their political career.

See a Problem, Solve a Problem | © 2024 Bradley Halladay