SHARON, Pa. (WKBN) – Starting at the corner of E. Silver Street and 5th Avenue, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf walked the streets of Sharon Thursday afternoon. He wanted to examine the city’s vacant buildings and see what could be done to fix it.
“I’m impressed that they took the time out from their busy schedules to come here and walk our blighted neighborhoods,” said David Tompko, Sharon’s code zoning and public works director.
Wolf wanted to see the firsthand impact his proposed “Restore Pennsylvania” project could have on
communities like Sharon.
“These are the problems, you are the experts. What is it that we can do to help? Well, it’s not by loading more ideas. You don’t need those, you’ve got them,” Wolf said. “What you need is some dollars.”
Restore Pennsylvania would be funded by a severance tax, which is proposed to bring in $4.5 billion over the next four years.
This money will go toward helping communities address blight, expand broadband access, mitigate the effects of localized flooding and expand green infrastructure.
Pennsylvania is the only state that doesn’t have a severance tax but it’s the second largest natural gas producing state behind Texas.
“Let’s take something that every other state’s doing — and we’re all paying for their roads and bridges because we all pay the severance tax. Every time we fill up our car with gasoline or we use a plastic product, we’re paying someone’s severance tax. So let’s have them pay for us,” Wolf said.
It’s a tax both Wolf and Lt. Governor John Fetterman said has bi-partisan support.
“An abandoned home and a derelict property looks the same in a red county as it does in a blue county,” Fetterman said.
He emphasized that Pennsylvania’s communities have great ideas but lack the resources necessary to tackle the problems. That’s where he wants to come in and help.
“For whatever it is we’re going to do, we need money,” Wolf said. “Let’s take that money and then apply it the best, most productive, most supportive way we can.”
Tompko, who deals with these issues every day, said it’s what local leaders in Pennsylvania communities need.
“People that live in these neighborhoods are proud of their neighborhoods, but some of the things are out of their control and we need to help them,” he said. “The governor has come here with his staff to help us.”