State Budget

The PA Chamber advocates for responsible state budgets that make wise investments and set the Commonwealth on a path toward fiscal prosperity. This largely means battling back against excessive mandates and tax increases on the employer community, enabling them to invest, hire and grow.

2017-18 Budget Finalized After Months-Long Impasse

On October 30, a months long budget impasse came to an end when Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law several revenue bills to pay for the $32 billion spending that was approved in July for the 2017-18 Fiscal Year. The revenue package relies heavily on $1.5 billion in borrowing from the Tobacco Settlement Fund – to close the year’s budget gap. It also includes: $500 million in one-time fund transfers; a fireworks tax; requiring online vendors to remit sales tax; and a modest windfall from Net Operating Loss carryforward deductions (a recent state Supreme Court decision no longer requires new provisions in the Tax Code related to NOLs). Also signed by the governor was a gaming expansion bill that is expected to generate $239 million in the current budget year and $100 million in recurring revenue in future years.

Notably absent from the final deal were a number of proposed taxes that the PA Chamber had spoken out against: a severance tax on natural gas drillers; new taxes on commercial and residential natural gas users; increased taxes on electric and phone bills; a new hotel tax; and a commercial warehouse storage tax.

Along with the revenue package, a number of other budget-related bills became law – including the Public School Code. This legislation – which became law without the governor’s signature on November 6 – contains language that replaces the seniority-based process used when teacher furloughs were necessary, with a more fair and logical approach that aims to keep high-quality teachers in the classroom. For years, the PA Chamber strongly advocated for this proposal because it will improve the quality of the Commonwealth’s public education system. Following enactment of the legislation, we issued a statement applauding the General Assembly for passing this long-overdue education reform.

As lawmakers now set their sights on revenues for next year’s spending plan, our organization continues to advocate for pro-growth policies that right-size state government, rein in growing cost-drivers and encourage business investment that will lead to a stronger economic future in Pennsylvania.

PA Chamber’s 27th Economic Survey Shows That as Employer Optimism Rebounds, Concerns over Healthcare Remain

PA Chamber’s 27th Economic Survey Shows That as Employer Optimism Rebounds, Concerns over Healthcare Remain

Oct 3, 2017

As the nation’s economic climate steadily improves, employers are increasingly optimistic about the state of business in the Commonwealth, as well as projections for future growth in sales and hiring. However, their ability to offer healthcare to their workforce due to persistent uncertainty and rising costs in the market continue to be a chief concern. These indicators are among the responses from the PA Chamber’s 27th Annual Economic Survey, which was conducted in August 2017 by Susquehanna Polling and Research.

Read More

Multi-Industry Coalition: Tax Code Bill Would Significantly Increase Energy Taxes, Hurt Pennsylvania’s Competitiveness

Multi-Industry Coalition: Tax Code Bill Would Significantly Increase Energy Taxes, Hurt Pennsylvania’s Competitiveness

Aug 8, 2017 | Tricia Harris

Raising concerns regarding the impact a proposed revenue package would have on the Commonwealth’s overall economy and competitive edge, a coalition of business leaders representing a wide variety of industry sectors across the Commonwealth today held a media call to urge the state House to oppose H.B. 542 – the Tax Code bill. The legislation – which narrowly passed the Senate in recent weeks – would increase taxes on Pennsylvania job creators and residents by $600 million annually. The proposal includes a number of tax increases that will significantly raise energy costs for both residential and commercial users – including a new gross receipts tax on natural gas users, an increase to the gross receipts tax on electric users and a severance tax on natural gas.

Read More

PA Chamber: Wolf/Senate Revenue Package Bad for Pennsylvania’s Economic Climate

PA Chamber: Wolf/Senate Revenue Package Bad for Pennsylvania’s Economic Climate

Jul 27, 2017

Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry President and CEO Gene Barr issued the following statement in regard to the Senate’s passage of a revenue package for the 2017-18 Fiscal Year. House Bill 542 – which includes a number of tax increases on Pennsylvania residents and business owners – will have far-reaching, negative impacts on the state’s economic climate and competitive edge.

Read More

Innovation, Economic Trends and Crisis Management Focus of 5th Annual Economic Forecast Summit

Innovation, Economic Trends and Crisis Management Focus of 5th Annual Economic Forecast Summit

Mar 2, 2017 | Tricia Harris

With the Commonwealth’s economy predicted to remain in a slow-growth pattern going into the next fiscal year, leaders from Pennsylvania’s business and banking communities gathered today at the 5th Annual Economic Forecast Summit to gain insight about upcoming economic trends at the state and national level. This annual event – which is presented by the PA Chamber Education Foundation and the Pennsylvania Bankers Association – brings together some of the nation’s most respected economic forecasters and leadership experts.

Read More

PA Chamber: While Efficiencies in Budget Plan Can Be Applauded, Proposed Business Tax Hikes Raise Concerns

PA Chamber: While Efficiencies in Budget Plan Can Be Applauded, Proposed Business Tax Hikes Raise Concerns

Feb 8, 2017 | Tricia Harris

Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry President and CEO Gene Barr issued the following statement in regard to Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2017-18 budget address:

Read More

Sixth Annual Economic Forecast Summit

Sixth Annual Economic Forecast Summit

Sheraton Harrisburg-Hershey
Feb 15, 2018 | 8:15 am to 2:15 pm

The Sixth Annual Economic Forecast Summit—every company needs to not only understand today’s financial picture, but have some type of barometer with which to help forecast what may happen on both the national and international economic fronts.  Knowing the trends and probable outcomes helps companies plan for hiring, save for reserves, anticipate new products and services, develop marketing strategies and communicate with customers. 

Learn More

Within Pennsylvania’s borders are a diverse and vibrant collection of communities where employers set up shop, residents raise families and tourists come to visit. The success of our Commonwealth is directly tied to the strength of its communities and public policy should help communities thrive.

Pennsylvania’s labyrinthine system of local governments is not conducive to strengthening economic competitiveness. The Commonwealth is comprised of 67 counties, 56 cities, 958 boroughs, 1 town (Bloomsburg), 1,547 townships, 500 school districts and 1,961 authorities. Keeping government “close to the people” is certainly an important principle, but too many small governments with diminished capacities, inadequate resources, and limited economic wherewithal do not help advance economic development and job growth within communities. The PA Chamber believes that cooperation among counties and municipalities is part of what is needed to foster more functional and effective local government.

Moreover, the financial wellbeing of many Pennsylvania municipal governments is often harmed by antiquated and unbalanced state laws and regulations, which may necessitate higher costs and inefficient spending. Ultimately, these costs are borne by Pennsylvania residents and businesses, many of whom now live and operate in financially distressed communities. The PA Chamber supports efforts and legislation to help ease the financial burden municipalities face.

Municipal sustainability can be effectuated by:

  • Expanding opportunities for improving delivery and administration of municipal services: eliminate legal barriers and provide assistance to local governments to deliver services in ways that make practical and financial sense for their respective regions; allow and encourage municipalities to enter public-private partnerships; provide tools for local governments to allow for streamlined permitting so that Pennsylvania businesses and those seeking to locate in Pennsylvania can better compete with other states.
  • Encouraging municipal cooperation and consolidation: Streamline the procedures and provide incentives for consolidating local governments; encourage municipalities to collaborate on delivery of services and consideration and implementation of policies and decisions related to land use, permitting, zoning or any process through which businesses must go to locate or expand a facility.
  • Public Pension Reform: The PA Chamber recognizes the financial burden imposed by unsustainable, outmoded retirement plans and supports efforts to mitigate rising costs in the near term and address unfunded liabilities with as limited an impact as possible on taxpayers. This includes allowing local governments to transition employee retirement plans to a defined contribution retirement plan. These plans have become standard in the private sector as the workforce has evolved, including employee demographics and the tendency for individuals to frequently change jobs, and even careers, during their working life. Both the state and local governments should transition from their traditional defined-benefit retirement plans - which can be unpredictable, unaffordable and outdated - to defined-contribution retirement plans. Moreover, as most of the state’s thousands of local retirement plans serve a small number of employees, consolidation of the various disparate plans could serve to modernize the existing system and create economies of scale that save both taxpayers and plan participants significant money.
  • Reforming binding arbitration: Current state law provides for binding arbitration in the event of a contract dispute between police and fire fighters and their municipal employers and in exchange these uniformed public employees are prohibited from going on strike. The PA Chamber believes binding arbitration can be useful and should remain an option available to resolve disputes. However, it is clear the current system does not sufficiently protect the interests of the municipality as adverse decisions rendered through binding arbitration have become more frequent and a significant cause of escalating costs. The PA Chamber supports reforms to make binding arbitration laws fairer for municipalities, and thereby less costly to taxpayers, while ensuring that police and fire fighters’ rights are protected.