ABC Keystone Merit Shop Advocacy Blog

by Jim Willshier, ABC Keystone, Director of Government Affairs

Governor Shapiro’s First Budget Can Boost Apprentices

On March 7, Governor Shapiro delivered his first budget address before the General Assembly. What was most notable about it was it being widely seen as having something for everyone without major tax increase proposals. As such, it even included minor tax cuts for consumer cell phones, maintaining scheduled business tax reductions, and did not propose new Marcellus taxes as his predecessor did. As trade-offs for those, there is a loud call for increasing the minimum wage and multiple affirmations that Pennsylvania will never be a Right to Work state.

However, we want to focus on a policy that ABC will closely watch as this administration moves forward: advocating for apprenticeship. In his speech, the Governor highlighted a success story for the Iron Workers Local 3 in Pittsburgh and his commitment to increasing financial investments in apprenticeship programs. Understandably we should all be excited for an opportunity to talk about apprenticeships, even if the conversation started with a program outside of merit shops. There are many apprenticeship programs in the Commonwealth, and now will be a time for ours to shine.

Budget hearings are underway, and we can be sure that more legislators will ask the Department of Labor & Industry what their intentions are for these valuable conduits to our future workforce. There is a real opportunity to have a discussion on what you and ABC are doing with apprentices as part of this proposal to increase expanded programming with over $3 million additional dollars. ABC has already brought reality to the Governor’s words when he said, “My Administration has a comprehensive plan to invest in apprenticeship programs, expand vo-tech, and bring career and technical education back into our classrooms. We can connect the dots between our schools, trade unions, companies, and the public sector.” We will continue to work with our Career & Technical Education programs to give students a quality education as they set themselves up for a fulfilling career. And we will continue to ensure that the legislature and public know there are other paths than union apprenticeship.

ABC will lead as it always has on apprenticeships and continue building a great relationship with the Department of Labor and Industry’s Apprenticeship and Training Office. The conversation the legislature is beginning on this topic will be a chance to let more Pennsylvanians know how accessible these career paths are and have more state funds appropriated to further that reach. That conversation won’t end as we continue to graduate more future workers into successful careers.

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Posted April 3, 2023