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.
Pennsylvania’s economy was strong and performing above expectations before the COVID-19 pandemic brought everything to a grinding halt. Even as the state slowly emerges from this crisis through a gradual, county-by-county re-opening process, the full impact of several weeks of business closures on our economy remains to be seen.
In recognizing this unprecedented situation, at the end of May the legislature passed and Gov. Tom Wolf quickly signed H.B. 2387 – a $25.1 billion General Appropriations bill that continues current levels of funding for the full fiscal year for a handful of state-run programs – including education; mandated human services programs (namely, food security programs); state pension payment plans and the state’s debt service.
The bill funds other government operations for a period of five months, giving budget negotiators more time to understand the full scope of the Commonwealth’s fiscal picture for the remainder of FY 2020-21.
The governor also signed a number of other budget-related bills at the end of May, including the 2020-21 budget’s preferred (for state-run agencies) and non-preferred (for state-related universities) appropriations bills; along with code bills to implement the spending plan. Another important law that is helping to balance the current year’s budget in the midst of the pandemic is S.B. 1108 (Act 2A of 2020), which appropriates $2.6 billion of the $3.9 billion in federal CARES Act dollars that Pennsylvania received to help address the crisis. The money has been allocated to help counties, small businesses, community service providers, child-care services, first responders, school safety and education programs, and other important community-based programs withstand this uncertain time.
Lawmakers are expected to take up legislation in the coming months that will address funding for the remainder of the fiscal year. When funding discussions resume, the PA Chamber is hopeful that they will be working with a stronger economic outlook. Our organization will continue to advocate for a responsible spending plan that does not put additional tax burdens on business or individual taxpayers, especially as they continue the hard work of emerging from the economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the same vein, we will also continue to fight back against misguided policies – including mandated minimum wage hikes – that would only slow the pace of economic growth and lead to fewer available jobs at a time when they’re desperately needed.
Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry President and CEO Gene Barr issued the following statement in regard to Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2020-21 budget address:
Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry President and CEO Gene Barr issued the following statement regarding the recently finalized 2019-20 state budget: