Hi, I’m Gene Barr, president of the Pennsylvania Chamber.
Welcome to this month’s Pennsylvania Chamber Minute.
Elected officials already knew that balancing this upcoming budget would be difficult, based on month after month of lower than expected revenue returns and rising fiscal obligations. But a new report from the Independent Fiscal Office has found that the situation might be even worse than anticipated. The report breaks down the $1 billion employer paid tax increase package that the governor included in his $32.3 billion budget, along with his goal of increasing the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour. Not only does it find that the proposed tax hikes would largely fail to bring in the amount of revenue the administration is projecting, it also shows that imposing a $12 government mandated wage could lead to more than 53,000 jobs being lost, cost spikes in programs that subsidize child care and in-home care, and make Pennsylvania less competitive as a whole because our minimum wage rate would be well above any of our neighboring states.
Earlier this month, the state House responded to the Governor’s budget plan with another budget that is committed to spending within its means and doesn’t contain any new tax increases. It responds to the need for new revenues with proposals to further expand gaming and fully privatize Pennsylvania’s alcohol sales system by opening the sale of spirits up to the private sector. While House leaders have admitted that the budget they just sent to the Senate is a starting point, it’s important to note that the plan they’ve passed accounts for the state’s leading fiscal challenges.
As the budget process moves forward, the Pennsylvania Chamber will continue our work with lawmakers to enact a final budget that addresses our leading cost drivers – particularly, the rising pension crisis - and frees employers from the continued tax burdens that impede their efforts to invest, expand and create jobs.
Thanks for spending a minute of your time with the Pennsylvania Chamber, the Statewide Voice of Business.