The PA Chamber works every day to improve the Commonwealth’s business climate and make the state a more hospitable place for job creators to thrive. That includes pushing for pro-growth policies that will reduce burdens businesses in the Commonwealth currently face; as well as fighting back against proposals that will increase the cost of doing business. In 2017, thanks to our members’ support, the PA Chamber was successful in advocating for pro-business measures and defeating several proposals that would have created additional hurdles for employers, stifled economic growth and hurt the state’s competitive edge.
Throughout the 2017-18 budget process, elected officials proposed enacting more than $1 billion in tax increases on businesses and working families; including: a commercial storage tax; a technology tax; a hotel tax; a tax on natural gas users; an insurance tax and increased taxes on phone and electric bills; as well as an attempt to institute mandatory unitary combined reporting. The final spending plan did not include any of these proposed taxes.
At the end of 2017, the Federal Tax Code was updated for the first time in more than 30 years. This long-overdue overhaul of our federal tax system will make the country – and Pennsylvania – more competitive in the global marketplace.
Signed into law as Act 5 of 2017, the PA Chamber strongly advocated for this reform, which will enroll new state and public school employees into a hybrid pension plan with a 401(k)-style component — a long overdue first step to addressing the Commonwealth’s pension crisis.
As part of the 2017-18 budget proposal, elected officials debated various proposals to place a severance tax on the natural gas industry. Proposals would have increased costs for businesses, reducing their ability to succeed in the global economy and to re-invest in the state, and would have resulted in higher prices for consumers and led natural gas companies to other states in the shale play. The final budget agreement did not include this additional, punitive tax.
Government mandated wage hikes would especially hurt small businesses forcing many to cut employee hours, limit new hiring opportunities and even leading to job loss. In fact, a report from the state’s nonpartisan Independent Fiscal Office confirms this – the office estimates that 53,000 jobs could have been eliminated. The PA Chamber combated multiple efforts to impose such a mandate on the Commonwealth’s business community.
As part of the 2017-18 state budget, the Public School Code removes the antiquated and burdensome ‘last in, first out’ mandate that previously tied school districts’ hands when faced with the unfortunate situation of having to furlough teachers. This reform will allow school administrators to take into consideration a teacher’s performance, helping to keep the best, most qualified teachers in the classroom. In addition, the 2017-18 budget also included an increase of $10 million to the popular, effective Educational Improvement Tax Credit program, which allows businesses to contribute toward scholarships for students to help them attend the school that best suits their academic needs.
If the Commonwealth fails to come into compliance with the REAL ID Act, federal agencies will be prohibited from accepting Pennsylvania driver’s licenses and identification cards; additionally, Pennsylvanians over the age of 18 will need a passport to travel on any commercial airplane.