New Report: Rebuilding Pennsylvania’s Economy

Jan. 25, 2021, Harrisburg, Pa. — A new Commonwealth Foundation report proposes a series of public policies aimed at helping Pennsylvania recover from the COVID-19 economic downturn. The Race to Rebuild report will help state lawmakers fix the state’s fiscal and economic woes during their new session.

“The solutions in this report put the health of communities, families, and local businesses first,” said Commonwealth Foundation Policy Director Elizabeth Stelle. “Workers, small businesses owners, students, our health care system, and state finances have all been stressed over the last year. These proposals would safely and smartly jump-start the state economy and lay the foundation for long-term recovery from the bottom up, rather than from government down.”

From Gov. Tom Wolf’s emergency order in March to the end of 2020, more than 2.5 million workers filed for unemployment compensation—a disaster dwarfing the “great recession” of 2008–09. According to federal data, pandemic restrictions forced 30% of Pennsylvania businesses to close, at least temporarily, as of September.

Following early government orders to cancel all elective medical procedures, hospitals lost large portions of their revenue and laid off employees while struggling to meet the demands of a growing pandemic.

An educational crisis caused by closed schools and unsatisfactory attempts at virtual schooling has deepened disparities and caused extreme mental health problems among children barred from attending school. Parents are now desperately searching for quality education alternatives.

And the Independent Fiscal Office projects that state government will face a $2.5 billion deficit next fiscal year due to surging government spending at a time when Pennsylvanians cannot and should not be burdened with higher taxes.

To address these and other crises, the Race to Rebuild report provides numerous solutions under the following categories:

  1. Getting students back on track
  2. Making Pennsylvania’s health care system always prepared
  3. Fixing fiscal issues and preventing tax hikes on working families
  4. Jump-starting local small businesses with strategic tax and red tape relief

Pennsylvania citizens and businesses have endured an extended public health threat,” said Jessica Barnett, Commonwealth Foundation policy analyst and author of the report. “Now, Pennsylvania is facing a livelihood crisis caused by the pandemic and state mandates, exacerbating existing heartache, inequalities, and generational poverty. It is time rebuild our state with these proven, long-term solutions.”

Read the full report here: Policy Report – Race to Rebuild 2.3 final.pdf (

Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact Michael Torres 850-619-2737 or [email protected] to schedule an interview.

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The Commonwealth Foundation transforms free-market ideas into public policies so all Pennsylvanians can flourish.