Last week, Gov. Tom Wolf held a news conference with House and Senate Democratic leaders where he reiterated a call he first made in December for the General Assembly to appropriate $145 million from the Workers’ Compensation Security Fund to financially assist businesses whose revenue has been negatively impacted by the pandemic.
Our organization issued a response to the proposal, expressing appreciation for any effort to help struggling employers stay afloat this difficult time, but reiterating that the intent of the fund is to help injured workers and also urging the governor to support policies that help employers and do not cost money.
“Employers throughout the Commonwealth are facing almost unfathomable difficulties,” PA Chamber President Gene Barr said. “In fact, according to data released this past December by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a majority of small businesses believe the worst of COVID-19’s economic impact lies ahead and half of small businesses see their operations continuing for a year or less in the current business climate before having to permanently close. We appreciate any good faith proposal to help struggling employers and understand there are no easy answers for finding money. At the same time, it’s important to recognize the essential purpose of the Workers’ Compensation Security Fund – which is financed by the business community – is to support injured workers and note it has already been drawn upon to help balance the current state budget.
“As we work to move the economy forward and help businesses that are struggling to survive, additional support is needed. Policies that don’t come with a monetary cost – such as much needed targeted liability protections – would go a long way towards Pennsylvania’s economic recovery. Unfortunately, these much needed protections were opposed by legislative Democrats and vetoed by Governor Wolf. We also caution lawmakers from pursuing proposals – such as government mandated wage increases – that will increase the costs of doing business.
“As we collectively work to rebuild Pennsylvania’s economy, a collaborative approach is needed between the private and public sectors to ensure both the Commonwealth’s short-term recovery and long-term fiscal stability. Should lawmakers decide to proceed with this particular funding shift, we are committed to helping develop the proposal and avoid potential unintended consequences.”