Businesspeople served economic news by Corbett cabinet member
A member of Governor Tom Corbett's cabinet told a group of businessmen from Bucks and Montgomery counties that they have a friend at the state Department of Revenue.
"Business people serving business people -- that's what we do at the Department of Revenue," Secretary Dan Meuser said during a luncheon address Thursday at the Indian Valley Country Club in Telford, Montgomery Co.
Meuser spent about a half-hour outlining Governor Tom Corbett's economic record of the last two-plus years for about 40 members of the Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Meuser said he was especially proud of the negotiations that ended with an announcement last month by global oil giant Royal Dutch Shell's announcement that it would build a multi-billion dollar petrochemical plant in Beaver County. (Construction of the plant could take until 2020, one Beaver County official recently told the Pittsburgh Tribune.)
"In the end, we won quite a victory over West Virginia and Ohio," which were also offering millions in tax breaks, Meuser said.
And, he added, the deal is an example of the Corbett administration's philosophy to leverage such projects for more economic gain.
Meuser predicted Shell's cracker plant, which would convert ethane from the Marcellus shale formations into the building blocks for plastic products, will bring in "a cluster of other industries" and spin-off companies. State and industry officials estimate an extra 2,000 to 8,000 jobs could be created in addition to the plant's 400 permanent workers.
Meuser spoke enthusiastically about a $2.5 billion plan introduced Tuesday by Senate Transportation Committee Chairman John Rafferty, R-Montgomery, that would spend an extra $2.5 billion on Pennsylvania's highways, bridges and mass transit systems.
Rafferty's plan is more ambitious and expensive than the $1.6 billion plan Corbett unveiled in January.
Both plans would raise money by boosting a wholesale tax on the fuel that gas stations buy, which means motorists would be paying more at the pump. Meuser said the governor's plan would mean "nine cents [a gallon] more every couple of years."
Meuser also touched briefly on the Corbett administration's initiatives to privatize liquor sales and the state lottery.
He said selling off state liquor stores would not only make $1 billion available for education spending, "but the number of [liquor] retailers will increase by 300 to 400."
Meuser said even though state Attorney General Kathleen Kane decided in February that a contract with Camelot Global Services did not pass legal muster, his department will submit a revised contract to Kane in the coming months. "We're not going to give up, because it's the right thing to do," Meuser stated.
When Meuser finished his presentation, he asked if anyone had a question. When no one raised a hand, Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce president Mike Weiss thanked Meuser and assured the group they could trust what the secretary told them, "not only because of the political party he's from, but because he's a saltwater fisherman."
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