For Immediate Release
January 28, 2020
HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry President and CEO Gene Barr issued the following statement regarding Governor Tom Wolf’s renewed calls to double the state’s minimum wage rate to $15, significantly expand the state’s overtime eligibility rules and for an additional tax on the Commonwealth’s natural gas industry:
“The governor’s proposal to more than double the current minimum wage rate will increase labor costs and lead to further job loss. A recent report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that a $15 minimum wage could lead to as many as 3.7 million lost jobs.
“Additionally, the proposal to significantly expand overtime eligibility has prompted strong opposition among employers – particularly nonprofits, educational institutions and small businesses who cannot afford this dramatic expansion and would be forced to convert salaried employees into hourly positions so hours can be closely monitored and overtime avoided.
“We remain hopeful that all sides can work together to resolve differences of opinion on these proposed policies. We believe S.B. 79 represents such a compromise by maintaining the status quo related to overtime eligibility, enacting important regulatory reform related to overtime and a more manageable increase to the state’s minimum wage. While we have long opposed government mandated increases to entry-level wages, the minimum wage section of S.B. 79 is structured in a way that mitigates the negative impact on businesses.
“In regard to continued calls for a severance tax, an additional punitive tax on the energy industry will further exacerbate the market downturn – which has led to a projected 21 percent reduction in impact tax collections this year, a decrease in the number of active rigs operating in the state and some companies making the difficult decision to lay off employees and some deciding to stop drilling in the Commonwealth altogether. One of Pennsylvania’s greatest advantages is our affordable and accessible energy supply. However, we are at risk of losing this competitive edge if state elected officials continue to target this industry to pay for additional government spending. As we have seen this year, capital is fluid and companies will move out of the state if the conditions are not right to be profitable.
“Rather than enact policies that will negatively impact opportunities for economic growth and job creation within the state’s critical energy sector, we encourage policymakers to pursue smart public policies that will leverage our assets into greater opportunity for all Pennsylvanians.”
The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is the state's largest broad-based business association, with its statewide membership comprising businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of BusinessTM.