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:
“The governor’s budget proposal this year comes at a hard time for everyone. The pandemic has brought the Commonwealth to a crossroads. For months, job creators have been forced to adapt to ever-changing situations and tackled numerous challenges related to shutdowns, closure orders, less economic activity and making sure they’re complying with state and CDC-issued guidelines. While the development of a COVID-19 vaccine has provided a much needed ray of hope, businesses throughout the state – particularly small businesses – are hanging on by a thread. The decisions elected officials make over the coming months will either set us on a course towards economic growth or significantly delay our recovery efforts.
“Unfortunately, as we noted last week, many of the policies recently outlined by the governor as among his top legislative priorities for the year – including a $15 an hour mandated minimum wage increase; an additional tax on the natural gas industry; and implementing unitary combined reporting – will only increase the cost of doing business in the state and make the Commonwealth less competitive overall. It’s disheartening that in addition to those anti-business proposals, the Governor today called for a nearly 50 percent increase to the state’s Personal Income Tax, driven by his desire to exorbitantly raise state education spending. It’s worth noting that Pennsylvania ranks 9th among states in per pupil spend and 10th when it comes to the average salaries of public school teachers.
“The current PIT rate – and its application – is one of the bright spots of the state’s tax structure. In fact, if not for the PIT, Pennsylvania would rank much worse than our current placement of 27th on the Tax Foundation’s 2021 State Business Tax Climate Index. Make no mistake – this plan combined with the proposed minimum wage hike will devastate many of the small businesses in our communities. With so many unknowns surrounding our future, it’s counterintuitive to place additional burdens and hardships on the same people we’re relying on to drive our economic recovery forward.
“Throughout the budget process, our organization 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. Our ‘Bringing PA Back’ initiative is a strategic approach to improving the Commonwealth’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 – will go a long way toward making this happen. It’s critical that the private sector work collaboratively with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. We are not adversaries, but people who share a vision of seeing this state overcome the pandemic and move into a brighter future for everyone. By openly communicating and working together, Pennsylvania can – and will – rise to the challenge before us. We have the opportunity to set a new course – one with a thriving economy that will lead to more jobs and opportunities for all Pennsylvanians.”