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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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: