Editorial: Is restoring Pennsylvania enough?
“Restore Pennsylvania” is a good concept. Pennsylvania could use a little restoration. That’s not a revelation.
Pennsylvania needs more jobs. It needs more business. It needs more industry. It needs more development.
But Gov. Tom Wolf’s push to take $4.5 billion in severance tax that could be generated from Marcellus shale drilling and invest it in projects, including community blight, sounds familiar because it’s nothing new. It reuses the severance tax idea Wolf has talked about for years and recycles something every city, borough and township in the state struggles with — the empty storefronts and abandoned properties left behind by earlier successes and departed affluence.
There is no community that doesn’t want to see blight battled. But is restoration what will make that happen? Does the governor’s plan suffer just from opposition to the severance tax in some quarters, or does it also deal with the limitations of its own language?
Restoring Pennsylvania isn’t enough. The Pennsylvania of years past, when the buildings Wolf toured in Greensburg last week were bustling parts of a county seat’s hub, won’t cut it in a 21st century economy.
“Restore Pennsylvania” seems to acknowledge that with other programs, like fixing things that are problems today. Flooding. Broadband access. Neither of those are looking to restore anything. They want to improve and expand.
So why the rear-view mirror in the program name? Why restore Pennsylvania when we could revise it, revisit it, renovate it or reinvent it from the ground up?
Maybe it’s because “Restore Pennsylvania” seems to echo President Trump’s highly resonant “Make America Great Again” slogan. The success of that message in the Keystone State in 2016 swung an election. It speaks to a former glory. It says there is a pedestal the state occupied before and we can sit there again.
But Pennsylvanians would be better served by a call to think bigger than bygone days.
Restoring Pennsylvania doesn’t help achieve the success we need to grow our economy and advance our communities.
To get the new business and increased development that will battle blight, the state’s sales pitch needs to be aspirational, not nostalgic.
And connecting those big ideas to Pennsylvania’s street corners could really resonate.