How Josh Shapiro is starting his administration with a pro-business focus — and a ‘money-back’ guarantee – The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Shapiro administration will refund the cost of license application fees if the state doesn’t send a response in a specified amount of time.
HARRISBURG — Gov. Josh Shapiro continued his effort Tuesday to cut red tape and make it easier to work in Pennsylvania by creating a “money-back” guarantee for industries that require different professional licenses.
Every Pennsylvania agency is now required to review their license, certification, and permitting processes over the next 90 days, according to a new executive order Shapiro unveiled Tuesday. The Shapiro administration will then specify a time frame in which the agency must issue a license, or refund the cost of the application fee.
Shapiro has signed three executive orders in the three weeks since he took office that aim to increase access to jobs and business opportunities in the state. These efforts — plus the fact that his first appearance as governor was on Fox News — led the Washington Post to describe him as “on a GOP-charm offensive.”
The 49-year-old Democrat from Montgomery County had a double-digit win over Republican Doug Mastriano, a state senator. His supporters say Shapiro is a strong example of how Democrats can win over Republicans in today’s hyper-partisan environment and hope he’ll run for president one day.
Shapiro has repeated “Pennsylvania is open for business” in several news conferences since taking office. Tuesday’s order showed a continuation of that strategy to appeal to Republicans and Democrats by pushing a customer-service focus.
He kicked off his administration with a mostly symbolic executive action by cutting the requirement for four-year degrees for 92% of state government jobs, or approximately 65,000 positions. However, as of July, only about 135 of the state’s 2,600 job titles required a bachelor’s degree as part of their minimum experience requirements, PennLive reported. In 101 of those jobs, managers could accept experience and training as a substitute for a degree. Pennsylvania’s executive branch employs more than 72,000 people.
Shapiro also created an Office of Transformation and Opportunity as a “one-stop shop” to help businesses develop or expand in the state. The office will be housed in the Governor’s Office and be led by a “transformation and opportunity” czar. Shapiro said it will help businesses of all sizes navigate the bureaucratic processes necessary to operate a business in Pennsylvania.
When asked about his GOP-wooing strategy, Shapiro balked and said it was “pro-common sense.” He said he’s received positive feedback from leaders and rank-and-file members on both sides of the aisle for his pro-business pursuits.
”This is about making the government more effective and efficient,” Shapiro said. “This is about customer service, giving the public the answers they deserve.”
As part of the agency review, each one will also get to request additional staff to meet the new time frame state agencies will have to respond to applicants.
The state will still guarantee that each applicant is vetted “with a very careful eye,” Shapiro said.
Shapiro can’t do much right now but take executive actions. Both the state House and Senate are in recess until Feb. 27. The House has three special elections next week to fill vacancies that will likely give Democrats a razor-thin majority. With the House Speaker Mark Rozzi (D., Berks) pledging to keep the doors to the House locked until members reach an agreement on a two-year window for childhood sexual abuse survivors to file civil suit, the entire General Assembly is at a standstill.
For now, it seems Shapiro will focus on enacting what campaign promises he can on his own as the state’s chief executive.
Daryl Thomas, who owns Philly Cuts barbershop in West Philadelphia, said during a news conference Tuesday that the licensing process is often an additional worry for small-business owners when they or stylists are often focused on making ends meet.
Shapiro promised Thomas on the campaign trail that he’d improve the licensing process for cosmetologists and barbers in Pennsylvania. Thomas said Tuesday he made good on that promise.
“In Philly, you keep your word,” Thomas added.


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