Small Business owners may not know of the newly-revised payroll tax form, which eligible employers can use to take advantage of the special payroll tax exemption for new workers hired in 2010. This incentive was created as a part of the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act, which I was proud to support. In addition to this provision, the HIRE Act provided for an expansion of the Recovery Act provision that enables small business owners to write-off certain capital expenses. I hope that many Pennsylvanian entrepreneurs will be able to take advantage of the provisions in this legislation to help improve their businesses and drive our economy forward in its recovery.
The payroll tax form has been posted on the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) website where you can find more information on this tax exemption.
In addition, many small business owners have expressed concern about the impact of the upcoming requirement mandating reporting of the value of health insurance coverage on employee’s Form W-2. The IRS confirms that employer-provided health coverage is NOT taxable. The IRS explains on its website that this reporting is for informational purposes, to show employees the value of their health care benefits so they can be more informed consumers. The value of the employer contribution continues to be excludible from an employee’s income and is not taxable. More information on this subject can also be found on the IRS website.
Yesterday I visited with the Armstrong County Board of Commissioners to discuss how the administration and Congress need to adjust our trade policy with China. Armstrong County has been directly affected by China's trade policies and the Commissioners have done a wonderful job in highlighting China’s currency manipulation and how it leads to job loss. I would like to thank Commissioners’ Kirkpatrick, Fink and Scahill for hosting me and discussing this important topic.
The Commissioners presented me with a copy of the Armstrong County Free Trade Resolution, which reinforces the difficulties United States manufacturers face in remaining competitive amongst companies that simply don’t play fair. By passing this resolution, the Armstrong County Commissioners have shown that the well being of blue collar workers are a high priority. I'll continue to fight for fair trade when the Senate reconvenes in September.
Earlier this week, I spent some time in Lawrence County. On Monday evening I wrapped up my day by joining local farmers and constituents at the Lawrence County Fair. As I walked through the fair, I was able to meet many of the dedicated farmers and youth involved in this annual summer tradition. I saw firsthand the variety of exhibits that showcase the ingenuity and ongoing growth of the agriculture industry in Pennsylvania. I was particularly impressed with the Mobile Ag Education Science Lab. This lab travels to schools across the state, educating students on the agriculture industry. By providing a hands on experience, children are making the important connection between agriculture and the food on their table.
On Tuesday, I visited Ellwood City to see the work they are doing with Appalachian Lighting Systems Inc. Appalachian Lighting is a local manufacturer of high-efficiency LED fixtures. Through the use of funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Ellwood City was able to increase their orders through Appalachian Lighting resulting in significant energy efficiency improvements for the Borough. This partnership is an impressive example of how these funds can be utilized to stimulate business, encourage cost saving improvements, and foster economic growth. My father visited Ellwood City often, and I know he too would be proud of Ellwood City and the great work they are doing.
Yesterday I visited DonJon Shipbuilding in Erie with Congresswoman Dahlkemper and saw firsthand the exciting new manufacturing opportunities that are developing there. We not only viewed current construction on a tugboat, but also learned about a prototype energy efficient hydro tug that DonJon is developing with General Electric. These projects hold the potential of bringing many high paying jobs back to Erie and both the Congresswoman and I are proud to welcome DonJon to Pennsylvania and support its efforts.
Later in the day we also visited Fairview Swiss Cheese in Mercer to view an anaerobic digester. This technology converts waste products from the facility into energy to power the plant. This is exactly the type of public/private partnership that we need to see more of in Pennsylvania. It is an excellent example of the type of innovation that will help our country wean itself of its dependence on fossil fuels.
I'd like to commend and congratulate Crayola on the opening of a brand-new 15 acre solar farm at their world headquarters. Joining with two other Pennsylvania companies, UGI Energy Services Inc. of Reading and PPL Corporation of Allentown, Crayola is helping Pennsylvania manufacturing go green with the help of money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The 1.9-megawatt solar farm will generate enough power to make over 1 billion crayons per year! Now Crayola can proudly boast that their crayons are "made with sunshine."
Children came from across the country to help plug the solar farm into the Crayola factory. These children won a nationwide contest to envision a greener world. I am glad to know that Crayola crayons, markers, and colored pencils, helped these children harness their own creative talents.
This project is an example of the change we can make when we all work together. The Recovery Act provided a $1.5 million grant to fund a large portion of the solar project, and the Business Energy Investment Tax Credit, which I voted for, provided tax credits for 30% of the capital investment. Because of these incentives, Crayola plans to expand the solar farm over the next few years and create many more jobs in Pennsylvania.