Editorial Roundup: Pennsylvania Editorial Boards & Columnists Praise Governor Josh Shapiro’s First Executive Orders in Office

“Shapiro is issuing executive orders focused on efforts on improving Pennsylvania’s environment for employers and job-seekers alike.”

HARRISBURG, PA – Editorial boards and columnists across the Commonwealth and the nation are praising Governor Josh Shapiro’s first three weeks in office and his first Executive Orders for their focus on spurring economic development and creating opportunity for Pennsylvania workers. Pennsylvanians are taking notice as Governor Shapiro gets right to work, spearheading commonsense solutions to the economic challenges facing our Commonwealth.

So far, Governor Shapiro has signed three Executive Orders focused on economic development – announcing that 92 percent of state government jobs – 65,000 jobs – don’t require a four-year college degree, establishing the Office of Transformation and Opportunity, a one-stop shop for businesses looking to create jobs and expand in Pennsylvania, and improving the Commonwealth’s licensing, permitting, and certification processes to ensure workers and businesses receive efficient customer service from state agencies. Governor Shapiro has taken immediate action to start building an economy that works for everyone in Pennsylvania.

Read what people are saying about the Shapiro Administration’s accomplishments in office so far:

Reading Eagle [EDITORIAL]: Making some progress in Harrisburg

We’re pleased to note that some progress is being made on key issues in Harrisburg even as the state House of Representatives remains mired in a dispute over its leadership and rules. […]

Meanwhile Shapiro is issuing executive orders focused on efforts on improving Pennsylvania’s environment for employers and job-seekers alike.

Shapiro gained bipartisan praise for eliminating the requirement of a four-year college degree for most jobs in state government. For one thing, the tight labor market demands that the state widen the pool of applicants it will consider. And more importantly, it is only right to expand opportunities for people who haven’t attended college. In many lines of work the state government does, there are plenty of people with experience and natural talent that qualify them, even if they don’t have an expensive diploma. They deserve a chance.

Sunbury Daily Item [EDITORIAL]: Governor puts sharp focus on economic development

Government officials on the local, state and federal levels help boost and support the economy nearly every time they streamline the process of launching new businesses and industries.

That is the primary goal of the third executive order issued by Gov. Josh Shapiro during his first week in office. […]

The newly created initiatives, both based within the governor’s office, will be a “one-stop shop” for businesses looking to grow, the governor said. The focus will be to aggressively reignite the state’s economy by fostering innovation, supporting transformational economic development and creating real opportunities for businesses and workers. […]

It’s a new year with a new administration launching new visions for Pennsylvania. We look forward to reporting on the results.

The New York Times [EDITORIAL]: See Workers as Workers, Not as a College Credential

In one of the richest nations on earth, the path to prosperity has narrowed significantly in recent decades — especially for those without a college education. More than 62 percent of Americans ages 25 and up do not hold bachelor’s degrees, and the earnings gap between those with a college education and those without one has never been wider. In 2021, the difference between the median earnings of younger workers with bachelor’s degrees and workers of the same age with high-school diplomas only was $22,000 — the largest since the Federal Reserve Bank of New York began tracking earnings in 1990. That’s happening even as the cost of college spirals upward, putting it out of reach for many. This has fueled anxiety, bitterness and a sense of alienation among the millions who see themselves as shut out of an economy that does not value them.

Making college more affordable is important, but there are other keys to the doors of opportunity as well. With an executive order issued on Jan. 18, his first full day as governor, Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania used one of them: He eliminated the requirement of a four-year college degree for the vast majority of jobs in the state government, a change similar to one that Maryland and Utah made last year. This demonstrates both good policy and good leadership, representing a concrete change in hiring philosophy that stops reducing people to a credential and conveys that everyone — college-educated or not — has experience and worth that employers should consider. It is a step — and a mind-set — that other leaders should consider as well.

The decision was driven in part by the realities of a tight labor market. Unemployment in Pennsylvania is 3.9 percent — close to the national average of 3.5 percent — and lower than it was before the pandemic. Public and private employers have been struggling to find qualified applicants, prompting a re-evaluation of hiring criteria. As Mr. Shapiro’s order notes, “In the modern labor market, applicants gain knowledge, skills and abilities through a variety of means, including apprenticeships, on-the-job training, military training and trade schools.” […]

With Mr. Shapiro, a Democrat, weighing in for Pennsylvania, the nation’s fifth most populous state, the movement’s bipartisan credentials have been burnished. It is a move that Americans in every state should actively encourage.

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review [EDITORIAL]: Let’s not forget what working at home taught us

It’s back to normal for Pennsylvania government.

Gov. Josh Shapiro announced Thursday that 2,300 state employees will be heading back to the office. That move came on the heels of President Joe Biden’s decision that federal emergency measures related to the coronavirus pandemic will end in May.

These are positive moves on many fronts.

From a social standpoint, it’s another sign that we are returning to life as we knew it before the world shut down in March 2020.

From an economic standpoint, it’s a jolt for some flagging areas of business. While most of those 2,300 state workers will be heading back to Harrisburg offices, it’s also likely to bolster other areas. Those office workers will translate to more people stopping for coffee on the way into work and buying lunch at noon.

Chester County Press [EDITORIAL]: Degrees in fairness and opportunity

By Richard Gaw

In the recent history of the modern American employment system, perhaps one of the largest fallacies that continues to be thrust in the face of the working sector is that a candidate with a college degree is more qualified for a position than an applicant without a college degree. […]

Last week, Pennsylvania set out to change that forever.

In his first act as the new Governor of Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro passed Executive Order No. 2023-03, declaring that 92 percent of state jobs – about 65,000 jobs – will be eligible to those without a college degree. As the commonwealth works to combat a worker shortage, a puttering economy and a tight labor environment, news of this executive order sends forth a message that the doors of possibility – once open to those who have been fortunate enough to hold a college degree – are now open for everyone. […]

A college degree should never have been – and should never be — a required prerequisite for being allowed to fully participate in the American job sector. It is this newspaper’s hope that other states follow the recent example set by Gov. Shapiro and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [EDITORIAL]: A bureaucratic reform could transform Pa. government

It’s governmental malpractice that the state of Pennsylvania does not have a comprehensive list of permits and licenses, along with an official schedule for how long issuing decisions will take. Gov. Josh Shapiro’s executive order requiring the creation of such a schedule will be — if truly enforced — one of the most important economic development moves the state government could make. […]

Mr. Shapiro claims, and we join anyone who’s ever dealt with the state bureaucracy in agreeing, that licensing and permitting efficiency can be increased without sacrificing safety or attention to detail. Pennsylvania’s unusually slow and unpredictable processes aren’t the result of unusually careful scrutiny. They’re the result of decades of built-up bad habits and a lack of accountability. […]

This executive order is a clear signal that the old way of doing business with, and within, state government is being seriously challenged. It helps shift state government from a posture of imperiousness, which forced residents and businesses to work with it on its own terms, to a posture of service. It won’t happen overnight, but it should have happened a long time ago.

The New York Times [OPINION]: Something Very Important for Democrats Just Happened in Pennsylvania

By Frank Bruni

I believe as fervently as anyone in the value of a four-year college degree not just as a path to professional opportunity but also as preparation for informed, thoughtful citizenship. I’ve written extensively about that, and I wouldn’t take back a word.

But I also believe that this particular credential has become too divisive an emblem in our culture wars, too bold a fault line. For that reason among others, I’m impressed and excited by what Josh Shapiro, the newly installed Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, just did.

On Jan. 18, his first full day in office, Shapiro signed an executive order that dispensed with the requirement of a four-year college degree for 92 percent of positions in state government, meaning roughly 65,000 jobs. His action rightly recognized that such a degree is no guarantee of competence, no exclusive proof of intelligence and often less relevant than work and life experiences that have nothing to do with lecture halls. […]

I’m liking Shapiro. I’m liking him a lot. I like his perceptiveness and his acumen. I like that when he was Pennsylvania’s attorney general, he went after child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in the state, although he had to know that, as a Jewish public official who’s forthright about his devotion to his religion, he’d get a special kind of antisemitic pushback. […]

That’s an accurate assessment and excellent argument for Shapiro’s decision, which not only makes practical and political sense. It makes moral sense as well

Los Angeles Times [OPINION]: How Democrats can win over working-class voters

By Jill Lawrence

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro has held his job for less than a month, so it’s probably too early for him to think about running for president. But it’s not too soon for other governors considering a White House run to do what he did with a splash on his first full day: open up thousands of state jobs to people who don’t have four-year college degrees but do have relevant skills, training or experience.

Democratic and Republican governors should all do this, because it’s commonsense policy. In fact, the first governor to go there (by his account) was a Republican now mulling a presidential campaign: former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who dropped the college requirement for thousands of state jobs last March.

The Allentown Morning Call [OPINION]: Paul Muschick: Gov. Shapiro’s plan to make government accountable is a model for others

By Paul Muschick

A lot of places offer a money-back guarantee. Tools, clothing, mattresses — if you aren’t satisfied with many products or services, you can get a refund, no questions asked.

It was intriguing last week when Pennsylvania state government joined the money-back guarantee club.

Gov. Josh Shapiro issued an executive order that says people who pay an application fee to obtain a state license, permit or certificate will get a refund if their application is not processed swiftly. That goes for everything, including occupational licenses for nurses, accountants, funeral directors and teachers, and environmental clearances for developers. […]

A lot of politicians talk about the need for government to operate more like a business. This is a model that I hope Shapiro expands to other state services. Other governments should adopt it, too. […]

This initiative is not about money. It’s about accountability. And that’s why it’s a model for others to follow.


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