Gov. Shapiro plans to propose a three-year tax credit incentive for newly certified teachers, cops, and nurses in the commonwealth when he unveils his budget plan next week.
Saying Pennsylvania is in the midst of a workforce crisis, Gov. Josh Shapiro said he will propose a three-year incentive of up to $2,500 a year for newly certified teachers, police officers, and nurses when the Democrat unveils his budget plan on Tuesday.
The incentive is a tax credit designed to help address complaints from school boards, police departments and hospitals about the growing difficulty in filling critical positions in public safety, health and education, according to Shapiro.
“The trend lines on all three of these are getting worse,” Shapiro said Friday. “So I think if we don’t act now, these numbers are just going to go up, and when I say ‘up’ I mean in a bad way.”
The new tax credit will need approval from the state legislature, where Democrats hold a slight majority in the House and Republicans control the Senate.
Under Shapiro’s proposal, the tax credit would apply to new certifications issued in 2023, and could be included on a newly certified worker’s tax return starting in 2024. The state would mail a check back to someone whose certification qualifies them for the benefit.
Those eligible could receive the tax credit for three years.
The amount of the tax credit would be determined by a sliding scale, depending on how much someone earns.
The new credit would cost the state about $25 million, based on a three-year average of nearly 15,000 people a year getting their certification in the eligible professions.
Police departments have seen applications drop dramatically over the past few years, Shapiro said. The commission that oversees the training and certification of municipal police officers found more than 1,200 officer vacancies in a survey of just one-third of the state’s accredited law enforcement agencies last year.
On the campaign trail, Shapiro had promised to help police departments recruit 2,000 more police officers.
The state’s largest teachers’ union, the Pennsylvania State Education Association, has blamed a shortage of teachers on a drop in the number of college graduates entering the profession. It has asked the state to fund a plan to set minimum salaries at $60,000 a year for teachers, school counselors, and nurses.
Meanwhile, the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania said a survey of 70 hospitals in November found that one-third of registered nurse positions were vacant, a sharp increase over levels before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The association has asked for the state to make it easier for nurses to get licensed, to help make health care education cheaper and more accessible, and to relax regulations that make it harder to focus on innovation, telehealth and patient care.