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Op-Ed: LET OUR MONEY GO 

Doc Clements

Lebanon, PA- The Pennsylvania legislature is sitting on $2 billion in federal COVID Relief Funds. These are funds that must be used prior to 2024 or returned to the federal government. They were allocated by the federal government to aid businesses, especially small businesses that were left high and dry in the first two relief bills that appeared to be earmarked for the wealthier big corporations. I know of many small businesses in the area that are on the precipice of closing as a result of the economic effects of the pandemic and its side effects.

I find it problematic that the legislature made the decision to sit on tax dollars we paid to the federal government. The pandemic and the subsequent effects that it has had on inflation, gas prices and the supply chain have been particularly hard on small businesses. The cost of raw materials has skyrocketed as a result of supply chain interruptions. It appears that we may be in for a long-haul supply chain breakdown, as China has entered another period of lockdown. The unpredictability of the cost of raw materials greatly complicates the ability to build in the necessary profit margins to meet payroll and profits to survive.

During the height of the pandemic, the entire nation shut down and oil companies could not give gasoline away, as America stayed home. The price of gasoline was extremely cheap, but the side effect was the total shutdown of exploration. As we emerge from the shutdowns and the peak COVID infections, the demand for gasoline has quadrupled but the supply is insufficient. The return to exploration will be slow. World supply is further complicated by the Russian aggression on the Ukraine. Fuel prices are at an all-time high and unpredictable week to week. Many small businesses are co-dependent on fuel prices for delivery of their services.

Further complicating the small businessman’s life is the lack of employees. The pandemic has changed the way Americans look at work. Many families have decided to adjust their lifestyle to allow for one income families, especially families with children.  It is predicted that the new American work force will, in the future, be smaller and willing to work less hours or work from home. Until we can adjust toward immigrating new employees, our work force will be deficient which cripples many small businesses.

Given the hardships that small businesses must endure, the money being held captive by the state would go a long way toward keeping the wolf from the door. Although, legislators did not seem to have the least bit of hesitation RAISING their pay by $5,000 and getting a healthy retirement benefit boost. Need I remind the reader, they are amongst the highest paid legislators in the nation. Legislators work four months of the year and get paid vacation, exquisite health insurance, pay for committee duty, office reimbursements and most are on UNFUNDED pensions. In my opinion, they have demonstrated blatant disregard for main street and their dedication to service is to embellish their wealth! We need to demand they ROLLBACK the RAISES and distribute these funds NOW! CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE and SENATORS TODAY.

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