Joyce discusses struggles with jobs

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Between work sessions in Washington, D.C., freshman U.S. Congressman John Joyce, R-13th District, said he has been meeting farmers, business owners and educators in counties including Blair.

As a member of the House Committee on Small Business, Joyce is spending the week in the 13th District, meeting with job creators and highlighting the need to make the tax reductions from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act permanent for individuals and small companies.

His goals for helping the economy in the 13th District also include helping farmers, who he said are overregulated by the government.

Joyce spoke with 14 Blair County business and education leaders Wednesday at the Blair County Chamber of Commerce’s executive roundtable breakfast at the Blairmont Club.

As a physician with a business in Altoona, Joyce said he understands the challenges that job creators in the region face.

“Many of your struggles have been my struggles as well,” he said.

“Washington may be new to me, but my knowledge of the business climate in our region and your unique needs as job creators are not,” he said.

Leaders of Sheetz and McLanahan Corp. were among those on hand for Joyce’s presentation during which he cited statistics for growth in the past couple of years — unemployment has decreased in Blair County since 2017, when tax cuts were enacted, he said.

However, although the 2017 law slashed the corporate tax rate permanently from 35 percent to 21 percent, its tax cuts for individuals and the millions of U.S. pass-through businesses expire in eight years.

The pass-through businesses funnel their income to owners and other individuals, who then pay personal income tax on those earnings, not the corporate rate, Joyce said. He plans to co-sponsor new legislation that will make the cuts for individuals and pass-through businesses permanent, he said.

“When I get back to Washington next week, I plan on co-sponsoring H.R. 22 — a bill to make sure the tax cuts for individuals and small businesses stay for good — just like the corporate tax cuts,” Joyce said.

Making sure those tax cuts remain is essential, he added.

“First off, think of the certainty that will allow many of you as you seek to grow and expand your businesses to hire more workers,” he said. “As someone who has had to engage in long-term planning for a small business, I know how important this legislation would be for your peace of mind and your decisions down the road — that’s why we cannot wait and must pass H.R. 22 now for it to have the maximum benefit.”

He said it is also a fairness issue.

“Why in the world would we want to cut taxes for large corporations, but not make sure many of you who operate on main street reap the same rewards?” he asked.

Blair County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Joe Hurd said he was glad to hear Joyce’s support for making the tax cuts permanent.

“I think that is a tremendous idea — 85 percent of our chamber membership is small businesses,” Hurd said. “His comment about doing what he can to help small businesses from the tax perspective is music to our ears.”

Joyce added that passing the change through Congress is a bipartisan cause.

“It will be a relatively easy sell in the House,” he claimed, and urged the leaders at the table to contact senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey for support to get it through the Senate as well.

“It will be a crowning achievement if it can be done before summer,” he said.

In addition, Joyce said it is hard to overstate how many business owners come to his office to talk about the need to continue with regulatory reform.

“The group I hear from the most on this topic are farmers, and as the recently appointed ranking member on the Small Business Subcommittee on Rural Develo­pment, Agri­culture, Trade and Entrep­reneurship, I will be spending a lot of time on making sure they see relief,” he said.

He said business owners and farmers would benefit greatly from the State Trade Expansion Program.

“There are millions of dollars in STEP grants that are underutilized,” he said.

The grants enable entrepreneurs to increase their exports.

“There is a lot of red tape discouraging business owners like you from taking advantage of the STEP program, and I will be working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to change that in the coming weeks,” he said.

“If this program functions like it should, it can help many of you increase your exports and benefit your overall operations.”

Joyce also said he was reaching across the aisle to work with a Democrat from New York to co-sponsor legislation that would extend H2A visas for temporary immigrant workers from Mexico who work on dairy farms in the region.

Although the discussion was not about health care, he spoke briefly about the subject before breakfast ended.

“I am incredibly interested in finding ways we can lower the costs of and provide more access to quality health care. That is the main reason I ran for office,” he said.

Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.