A recent editorial in the Times-Tribune (“Gather data on KOZ results,” December 29) encouraged the House of Representatives to pass Senate Bill 1237, which recently was approved by the Senate and included my amendment to require the state to collect additional data regarding both the costs and the benefits of Pennsylvania’s tax-free “Keystone Opportunity Zones” program.
Through many hours of research, my findings not only in Pennsylvania, but nationally, led me to the same conclusion: The success or failure of a KOZ depends on factors specific to each tax-free zone.
My amendment originated from a public hearing held last March in Pottsville to evaluate the successes and failures of our local KOZs. For example, Highridge Business Park in Schuylkill County is responsible for approximately 3,000 new jobs. This KOZ served both to remediate abandoned land and create jobs. Not only are jobs being created, but several of our local school districts and our county and local governments are now receiving the rewards with an influx of millions of dollars in new tax revenue on formerly abandoned sites to alleviate the stress on local homeowners, now that many of the tax-free KOZs have expired.
However, as with any program, there have also been KOZ failures throughout the state.
After passing unanimously with strong bipartisan support, my amendment will make it much easier to assess these important job-creation figures on a statewide level to ensure we are as economically competitive as possible. I look forward to continuing to work in a bipartisan matter to ensure that both taxpayers and legislators have the best information regarding the costs and benefits of KOZs, especially as it relates to economic development as we continue to find more ways to get Pennsylvanians back to work.
Senator David G. Argall (R-29)
Contact: Jon Hopcraft