Hi, I’m Gene Barr, president of the Pennsylvania Chamber.
Welcome to this month’s Pennsylvania Chamber Minute.
As 2017 winds to a close, the Pennsylvania Chamber is reflecting on the past year as we begin to set our legislative agenda for 2018 and determine how to best advocate for business growth in the Commonwealth.
We are pleased that the last 12 months culminated in a new law that begins to address the state’s public pension crisis by enrolling new state and public school employees into a hybrid pension plan with a 401(k)-style component. And thanks in part to our efforts, the state budget deal that finally wrapped up in November doesn’t include up to $1 billion in tax increases that had been floated during the months-long negotiation process. We also saw one of our major education priorities get enacted, with an antiquated seniority-based teacher furlough system replaced with one that weighs performance in the classroom, which will improve student outcomes.
As we look toward a gubernatorial election year, a major question leading up to the election will be whether Pennsylvania is headed down the right economic path. Our goal continues to be ensuring that the stage is set for employers to succeed. This means working with lawmakers to reduce regulatory red tape; simplify and reform the tax code to make our state and nation more competitive; and produce responsible state budgets that don’t bog down economic progress with stifling mandates or tax hikes. As our economy grows, we’re also committed to building a world-class workforce by educating students and their families about the good-paying jobs that are available in the skilled trades; and connecting them with the programs and employers they need to succeed. We’re also committed to ensuring that Pennsylvania’s labor laws are fair to both employers and workers. You can learn more about our plans for 2018 and beyond on our website, where you can find additional information on our legislative agenda for the New Year and our major advocacy priorities.
Of course, our legislative agenda is based on the feedback of our broad-based membership. We thank the thousands of businesses of all sizes for communicating to us the benefits and challenges they face operating in Pennsylvania. As we enter into a new year, I’d like to encourage the business community to continue reaching out to us, so that we can be sure we are always pursuing the advocacy agenda that best meets their needs.
Thanks for spending a minute of your time with the Pennsylvania Chamber, the Statewide Voice of Business.