False hope for Christmas from the governor
About a month after issuing his latest job-crushing orders to the state’s restaurants, bars and other small businesses, Gov. Tom Wolf held a press event two days before Christmas to announce he was “initiating a transfer of funds” to provide relief to businesses struggling because of those orders.
What exactly does this mean to area business owners and their employees? Absolutely nothing.
It was disingenuous at best for the governor to make this “announcement” just two days before Christmas. To begin with, he has no authority to unilaterally transfer this money from the Workers Compensation Insurance Fund. The money cannot be transferred or distributed through a grant program without authorization of the Legislature, and the governor knows the General Assembly is not permitted to be in session voting on bills right now, even though we have asked him to call us back into session early. In fact, a stressed-out business owner reached out to me on Christmas Eve to find out how he could apply for this funding. The governor’s announcement did nothing but give this business owner and countless others across the state false hope for Christmas.
Over the last nine months, the voices of the General Assembly and the people who voted for us to represent them have been virtually ignored by this governor. We have worked on numerous bills to provide relief and allow our businesses to operate safely in the midst of the pandemic, only to have the governor veto those efforts. Rather than own up to the impossible situation he has put these business owners in, he chose to make a bogus “announcement” in an effort to deflect the pressure he is getting for forcing business owners to close down or severely limit their safe operations and send their employees back into the failed unemployment system just weeks before Christmas. Those are the phone calls we are taking and the families we are trying to help.
When we are authorized to return to voting session after we all take the oath of office today, business owners here can rest assured I will continue fighting for your rights to responsibly run your businesses and keep your staff employed so you all can support yourselves and your families rather than being dependent on government.
State Rep. Clint Owlett is a Republican serving Tioga, Bradford and Potter counties.