Curing children a goal worthy of tax credits from state

For Immediate Release: Curing children a goal worthy of tax credits from state

The Issue:
State Rep. Thomas R. Caltagirone hopes to spur research that finds a cure for pediatric cancer soon.

Our Opinion:
Incentives to promote that goal in Pennsylvania deserves to become law.

March 6, 2019, Harrisburg, PA–Pennsylvanians wishing to donate all or part of income tax refunds due from the state Department of Revenue can help fight pediatric cancer. The Pediatric Cancer Research Fund is one of nine causes on the PA-40 income tax form. The money is directed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health to hospitals in the state for childhood cancer research.

State residents can donate $5 to the same fund when electronically renewing a driver’s license, photo identification card or vehicle registration.

State Rep. Thomas R. Caltagirone, a Reading Democrat who had a hand in helping both these proposals become law, is looking to reintroduce a measure that would allow tax credits to businesses to allocate up to $10 million per year for 10 years for Pennsylvania research efforts to cure pediatric cancer.

Caltagirone, 76, said he hopes to fund a cure for pediatric cancer within his lifetime.

“When you see these children suffering with this dreaded disease, it breaks your heart, and the parents dealing with it emotionally; it brings you to tears,” Caltagirone told the Reading Eagle recently.

The tax credit bill is the most ambitious of Caltagirone’s efforts against pediatric cancer, and his success in getting this done in his final term of a 44-year career in the state House would be an achievement for Pennsylvania as well — especially if it leads to cures for one or more of the cancers that afflict children.

The most common types of childhood cancer, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are leukemia, lymphoma and brain cancer:

Other sobering facts about childhood cancer, from the CDC and the American Cancer Society.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death among children ages 1 to 14, after car crashes.

Estimates for 2018 expected 10,590 would be diagnosed with cancer and 1,180 would die of the disease.

More than 15,000 cases of pediatric cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year.

While more than four out of every five children and teens with cancer survive, childhood cancer survivors may need follow-up care for the rest of their lives to help them avoid common long-term side effects of cancer treatment, such as heart disease, an inability to have children or getting another cancer.

Caltagirone made a good point about existing tax credits and how they compare with curing pediatric cancer.

“We give tax credits for everything under the sun: films, education,” Caltagirone said. “What about the children?”

There are more examples of causes for which Pennsylvania offers tax credits beyond trying to attract movie producers to film here and money for scholarships. We give them for at least 15 other reasons, including encouraging a Pennsylvania-based video game industry, incentivizing musicians to rehearse and perform here and getting businesses to invest in broadband equipment.

While an argument can be made for eliminating some of these tax credits, Caltagirone is right when he says that if they’re on the list, we might as well add a cure for pediatric cancer. Reaching that goal would be both more worthwhile and more prestigious than being featured even in an Academy Award-winning movie. Caltagirone’s bill to help children beat cancer deserves to become law.

Assigned to State Rep Tom Caltagirone,
PA House of Representatives

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