At a House Republican Policy Committee hearing last week, PA Chamber Vice President of Government Affairs Sam Denisco expressed opposition to several tax increases and new business mandates contained within Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2021-22 state budget proposal. Denisco contrasted these proposals with alternative options for revenue generation that would not place new burdens on employers at such a pivotal moment for the Commonwealth.
In his testimony, Denisco described how businesses have had to withstand sudden shutdown orders, capacity limitations for their facilities, stringent new health and safety measures and more. Pandemic-related challenges have unfortunately led to job loss and business closures, and many of the businesses that remain open are barely hanging on. Given these circumstances, the PA Chamber is speaking out against main tenets of the governor’s proposed budget, which would spend over 11 percent more than the current fiscal year and relies on a new tax on the state’s natural gas industry (an industry that has remained a steady economic presence through the pandemic and is doing much to help in the fight against COVID-19); and a sharp nearly 50 percent increase to the Personal Income Tax that is paid by thousands of individual taxpayers and small businesses. In a further hit to small businesses, the governor also proposes raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, which would result in job loss and cause further financial hardships for small businesses that have struggled significantly during this pandemic, most notably in the hospitality industry.
“There’s no disputing that a higher minimum wage will benefit some workers,” Denisco said. “However, there will also be many unintended consequences that would negatively impact the very people these policies aim to help. The job loss resulting from government mandated wage increases is real and a reduction in jobs is the last thing the Commonwealth needs as we work to move past this health and economic crisis.”
Rather than impose punitive tax increases, the PA Chamber is proposing pro-growth policies that are the best way to boost Pennsylvania’s economic competitiveness and secure a brighter economic future. This includes COVID-19 liability protections; streamlining and simplifying the state’s tax code; reducing regulatory burdens; and creating greater government efficiency and connectivity – all which are central to the vision of a stronger and more inclusive economy.
“The PA Chamber is committed to working with elected officials to enact policies that will help businesses overcome pandemic-related hurdles, while laying the ground work to ensure our economy can not only grow but stand out as a model for what economic recovery from this pandemic should look like,” Denisco stated. “Through our ‘Bringing PA Back’ initiative, we – along with our local chamber and industry partners – have developed a pro-growth, forward-thinking agenda that will help employers who are struggling to recover from the pandemic, while also encouraging additional investment and attracting emerging and expanding industries to the Commonwealth.
This strategic approach 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… As we collectively work to jumpstart our economy and rebuild the Commonwealth’s workforce, it is critical that government and the private sector work together to set a new course for Pennsylvania.”