Chamber Minute

September 2017

Hi, I'm Gene Barr, president of the Pennsylvania Chamber.

Welcome to this month's Pennsylvania Chamber Minute.

The House and Senate make their long-awaited return to Harrisburg this month for fall session. First on the agenda will be reaching agreement on a revenue package to pay for the $32 billion budget that became law on July 10. Within the Senate-passed version of the Tax Code, there are several “non-starters” in the bill for House Republicans, including $600 million worth of new tax increases on natural gas companies and gas, electric and phone customers. In fact, a conservative faction of the caucus recently crafted an alternative revenue plan - known as the Taxpayers Budget - that would tap into various special funds to fill an existing $2.2 billion funding gap without raising taxes. As the General Assembly prepares to debate the merits of this bill and other revenue options, our organization continues to speak out against excessive new tax burdens while advocating for a fair, responsible budget deal that won’t have a negative impact on Pennsylvania’s competitiveness and wards off any risk of future credit rating downgrades.

The PA Chamber believes that in order to put our fiscal house in order – on both the state and federal level – our elected officials need to rein in growing, unsustainable cost drivers. We’ve seen some success on the state level with the recently enacted pension reform law that was a good first step toward right-sizing the state’s two main public pension systems. But there’s much more to be done. We need to seriously look at reforming government entitlement programs as part of the solution to addressing growing government debt.

U.S. Senator Pat Toomey recognizes the threat these growing entitlement programs have to our nation’s economic health and is leading efforts to bring common-sense reforms that will ensure the viability of these important programs going forward. If action isn’t taken now, the federal government will be faced with a far greater financial crisis and the very real probability of having to take drastic measures.

Thanks for spending a minute of your time with the Pennsylvania Chamber, the Statewide Voice of Business.