Hi, I’m Gene Barr, president of the Pennsylvania Chamber.
Welcome to this month’s Pennsylvania Chamber Minute.
We’re now in the second month of the 2017-18 Fiscal Year, and state lawmakers are still in disagreement over how to generate revenue for the $32 billion budget that became law on July 10. Late last month, the Senate passed its version of a Tax Code bill that contains $600 million in tax increases on Pennsylvania residents and job creators. It includes a new tax on residential and commercial use of natural gas; an increase to residential and commercial electric bills; a higher tax on phone bills; and a severance tax on the natural gas industry. Along with the Senate, the Wolf administration appears to be in favor of the legislation – particularly the severance tax component, since the governor has been calling for a severance tax in each of the last three budget cycles.
While the House is now said to be reviewing the Tax Code bill, House Republican leaders in that chamber continue to express a desire to balance the budget through non-tax revenue solutions. Meanwhile, our organization is voicing firm opposition to what we believe is a very harmful tax bill. We are leading a coalition against the Tax Code due to the financial burdens it would place on the natural gas industry; on the use of electricity; and on communications costs – all of which would lead to higher prices for businesses throughout the Commonwealth. These costs will reduce Pennsylvania businesses’ ability to compete in the global economy and re-invest in the state, and will lead to higher prices on consumers. Part of our fight against this bad public policy is encouraging our membership and all Pennsylvania citizens to send a letter their House lawmaker and urge them to oppose the Tax Code bill when they return to session.
As negotiations on the revenue package continue, the Pennsylvania Chamber is sending an important message to the House lawmakers who are reviewing this legislation – pro-growth policies are needed to help our economy flourish - not additional punitive taxes on an industry that provides one of our state’s most significant competitive advantages – affordable, accessible energy.
Thanks for spending a minute of your time with the Pennsylvania Chamber, the Statewide Voice of Business.