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Shuster votes to extend unemployment benefits

Congressman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) voted yesterday to pass legislation that extends 13 weeks of federal unemployment benefits to 1.9 million new recipients who recently have lost their job.
In addition, the legislation will also allow recipients who did not receive their full 13 weeks before the December 28, 2002 deadline to collect their remaining benefits retroactively. The House of Representatives passed the measure by a vote of 416-4.
“Last year, the Congress helped nearly four million workers through some difficult times. We delivered 13 weeks of 100 percent federally funded extended benefits, and additional benefits to those in high unemployment states. Today, we passed legislation that helps those who had benefits end on December 28 and offers new eligibility for extended benefits to those who have most recently become unemployed,” said Shuster.
Congressman Shuster also noted the best remedy for workers is to boost economic growth across the country and to develop an economy that creates good-paying jobs.
“In addition to unemployment assistance, we must work to deliver stronger economic growth so that the unemployed can get what they most want – a job.”
Congressman Shuster noted that President Bush’s economic security proposal is a great starting point for economic growth that will lead to job creation.
“While we are still going over the details of the President’s proposal, the thrust of the proposal offers a chance for bold changes that will create economic growth, invigorate markets and provide opportunities for Americans,” he said.
Specifically, the proposal passed by the House of Representatives extends federal benefits to those workers affected by the December 28 deadline and allows them to receive the balance of their benefits. Workers who exhaust 26 weeks of regular State unemployment benefits in the coming months would become eligible for up to 13 weeks of federal extended benefits.
In Blair County, unemployment rates are lower than they were one year ago.
In November 2001, the unemployment rate in Blair County was 6.0 percent and in November 2002, the rate was down to 5.6 percent. It did mark a .6 percent increase from October of 2002. There are currently 3,500 people out of work in Blair County compared to 3,800 in November of 2001.
During Governor-elect Ed Rendell’s recent economic summit at St. Francis University, Keystone Opportunity Zones were one of the ways local leaders discussed to spur economic development in the region.
Keystone Opportunity Zones offer credits, exemptions, waivers and deductions for economic activity. In these zones, businesses receives credits for: corporate net income tax, capital stock and foreign franchise tax, personal income Tax, state and use tax (for purchases consumed and used by the business in the KOZ). On the local level, businesses receive credits for: earned income/net profits tax, business gross receipts, business occupancy, business privilege, mercantile tax, local real property tax and sales and use tax (for county and city).
In the northern end of Blair County, there are two KOZs. One is the Robert Jubelirer Industrial Park in Vail and the other is just beyond DelGrosso’s Foods in Antis Township.
One business success story from KOZs is Smith Transport.
The company constructed a 250,000 square foot facility and is currently expanding the building that has created 133 new jobs. Smith Transport is a service-oriented corporation providing an array of logistic service offerings to a defined niche market.
Shuster is also supporting the president’s growth package. It will provide the following benefits to taxpayers in the commonwealth:
• More than four million taxpayers will lower income tax bills;
• one million business taxpayers can use their tax savings to invest in new equipment, hire additional workers and increase pay;
• More than 3.1 million married couples and single filers will benefit from the acceleration to 2003 of the expansion of the 10-percent bracket scheduled for 2008;
• More than 1.1 million Pennsylvanians will benefit from the acceleration to 2003 of the reductions in income tax rates in excess of the 15-percent scheduled for 2004 and 2006;
• Nearly 1.6 million married couples in Pennsylvania will benefit from the acceleration to 2003 of provisions that increase the standard deduction for joint filers to double the amount of single filers and the increase the width of the 15-percent bracket to twice the width for single filers. These two provisions were scheduled to phase in between 2005 and 2009;
• More than 1.1 million married couples and single parents in Pennsylvania will benefit from the acceleration to 2003 of the increase in the child tax credit from $600 to $1,000 that was scheduled to phase in between 2005 and 2010;
• More than 1.4 million taxpayers will benefit from the exclusion of dividends paid from previously-taxed corporate income.
The president’s growth package is expected to be debated on the House floor in the next month.