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The future of business in PA

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Posted by: Bernie Dagenais on Tuesday, June 2, 2015 at 2:00:00 pm

The future of business in PA

          The outcome of the debate taking place in Harrisburg about the future of Pennsylvania is anyone’s guess. Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal, which would raise some taxes while lowering others and extending taxes to previously untaxed services, is aggressive.

            On pages 11 and 12, Gov. Wolf and Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry CEO Gene Barr offer opposing views. Here, I offer at least three points that are beyond contestation:

1)    The governor doesn’t currently support significant pension reform for public employees. As taxpayers, we owe pension funds $50 billion in a debt we continue to dig deeper each year. We have to honor agreements with existing employees, but it’s hard to understand why new hires should have a better deal than the public who pays their salaries. We hope he will compromise his view and agree to limit the diversion of funds from classrooms and other priorities.

2)     Pennsylvanians will pay more taxes overall. While parts of the plan pit smaller companies against larger ones and reduce the uncompetitive corporate net income tax while raising the personal income tax, the governor ran on a promise to provide additional school funding. Employers have a vested interest in better schools. Proper funding, surely, is part of the equation – preferably as part of broader plans to improve schools.

3)    With a Democratic governor and a Republican-dominated legislature, compromise will be required. State-funded organizations, and those they serve, will suffer from gridlock.

            There are other big issues at play. At The Main Line Chamber of Commerce, we seek to inform our members and be a conduit for their views. Next week, we will bring a delegation to Harrisburg to share our views and to learn. I welcome the thoughts of our members.

To read the entire June issue of the Main Line Business Monthly please click here 

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