HARRISBURG – PA Chamber President Gene Barr issued the following statement today in response to Gov. Wolf’s proposal to create a small business grant program using money from an injured workers’ fund to be directed towards businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Employers throughout the Commonwealth are facing almost unfathomable difficulties. 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.”