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.
There’s no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has created numerous challenges around the globe. Pennsylvania is continuing to feel the economic repercussions that have resulted from various mitigation orders put in place in an effort to combat the spread of the disease. The state is currently facing a $2.5 billion deficit and continues to see high unemployment rates. As we approach the one year mark of the virus’s first appearance in the Commonwealth, businesses across a wide range of industries continue to struggle. Unfortunately, many of the proposals included in Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2021-22 budget plan would increase employer tax burdens and mandates – which will only add to the challenges that job creators are facing.
The governor’s $37.87 billion budget proposal is an aggressive 11 percent increase in spending – paid for via tax hikes and business mandates that he has introduced and failed to gain legislative approval for in the past. These policies – which include a $15 an hour mandated minimum wage increase; an additional tax on the natural gas industry; and a nearly 50 percent increase to the Personal Income Tax – will increase the cost of doing business in Pennsylvania and make the Commonwealth less competitive overall. Additionally, the governor has again tied a much needed reduction in the state’s Corporate Net Income Tax – which is one of the nation’s highest – to the implementation of mandatory unitary combined reporting; which will further complicate the state’s Tax Code and add cost burdens on Pennsylvania’s job creators. Instead of providing a bold vision for how the Commonwealth can move forward from these challenging times, the Wolf administration has fallen back on repeated government tax and spend proposals.
The PA Chamber is advocating for a more effective alternative – one that focuses on pro-growth policies that will help employers who are struggling to recover from the pandemic; while encouraging additional investment and attracting emerging and expanding industries to the Commonwealth. Through our ‘Bringing PA Back’ initiative, the PA Chamber – along with our local chamber and industry partners – has developed a forward-thinking agenda that focuses on improving the state’s competitiveness, infrastructure and workforce in order to bring about equality of opportunity for every Pennsylvanian and aid in the state’s economic resurgence. Commonsense reforms – such as targeted COVID liability protections; streamlining and simplifying the state’s tax code; reducing regulatory burdens; and creating greater government efficiency and connectivity – are all central to this vision of building a stronger, more inclusive economy.
As we collectively aim to jumpstart our economy and rebuild the Commonwealth’s workforce, it is counterintuitive to place additional hardships on the same people we’re relying on to drive our economic recovery forward. Working together, the private sector and lawmakers have a real opportunity to write a new chapter for the Commonwealth – that will set the state firmly on a path toward long-term economic growth.
Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry President and CEO Gene Barr issued the following statement in response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2021-22 budget proposal: