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MEANINGFUL PUBLIC PENSION REFORM NOW!

 

  Pennsylvania’s business community supports comprehensive public pension reform that treats employees fairly while reining in enormous and unsustainable unfunded liability costs that threaten to engulf state, municipal and school district budgets . 

   Pennsylvania’s two pension systems’ debt outweighs their assets by more than a combined $47 billion. That number is expected to reach nearly $65 billion  within the next five years.  A combination of factors has contributed to today’s problem.  Pension investments have not met expected returns.  Changes in legislation over the last decade have artificially suppressed the employer contribution rate to provide short-term budgetary relief to the commonwealth and school districts.  This was done without any savings offsets and may have contributed to the problem we face today.  Absent meaningful reform, the Commonwealth will continue to struggle to make its employer contributions, may have to choose to   either pay pension obligations or fund programs and services for Pennsylvanians, and faces a continuing growth in pension debt for future generations.  Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has proposed a pension reform plan that will not only address budgetary relief, but will also tackle the long-term pension debt Pennsylvania now carries and put in place reforms that will ensure this problem does not occur again in the future. Tell your lawmakers to make pension reform a budget priority. Take action here.reeyour lawmakers yLet L 

   To  learn more, go to these resources:

   Pennsylvania’s Pension System Video    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awOkFKkomHA

Pennsylvania’s Pension Crisis Video        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alk7_k5hvvg

Gov. Corbett's Pension Reform Plan       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vc93cKX1uYo

   

 

REFORMING THE STATE'S ANTIQUATED LIQUOR SYSTEM

PBC supports the Commonwealth’s divestiture of state-owned liquor stores.  The sale of liquor – and other consumer goods – is not a core function of government.  It is appropriate for Pennsylvania to regulate the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages.  PBC accepts the Commonwealth’s decision to tax alcoholic beverages. But PBC opposes the state’s continued control of the wholesale/distribution function for wine and spirits, and its ownership and operation of liquor retail stores. [MORE]

ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION

Pennsylvania is fortunate to have abundant natural resources.  Individuals have been and continue to be attracted to the Keystone state because of the vast choices for outdoor recreation and quality of life.  Likewise, many of those natural resources have been the source of prosperity for the state throughout different points in our history. 

The members of the business community recognize that without a healthy and sustainable natural environment it is difficult to maintain and attract high quality employees.  It is equally important to ensure that environmental regulation is approached on a scientific basis to ensure that regulated entities are being asked to do what is reasonable, within technological limits.  It is likewise prudent that these regulations actually achieve real environmental benefits and does not advantage one sector of the economy to the detriment of another. 

It is imperative that Pennsylvania not enact laws or regulations that place Pennsylvania at a competitive disadvantage to its competitor states.  Laws and regulations should not be more stringent than federal regulations or laws unless there is a compelling Pennsylvania specific reason.

President Obama will make a major policy address on Climate Change this afternoon and we have an advance copy of his speech.  The 20-page address covers many energy and climate-related topics, but does not address the Keystone XL Pipeline issue. To read the speech in its entirety CLICK HERE

Pennsylvania’s business community recommends the following steps be taken related to Environmental Regulation

IMMIGRATION REFORM

On June 26, 2013 PBC President & CEO David W. Patti wrote Sen. Pat Toomey and urged him to support comprehensive immigration reform.
 
“On behalf of the more than 50 senior executives who make up the Pennsylvania Business Council Policy Council, I am writing to request your support for S. 744 a.k.a. “the Gang of Eight” immigration reform legislation.  We recognize and appreciate your concern that the number and allocation of work visas for both highly-skilled (H1-B) and low-skilled workers are sufficient and appropriate.  We commend you for your special attention to this important piece of the immigration reform puzzle.  And we understand that if this significant section of the bill is not corrected, you may not support the legislation.  However, we believe that even an imperfect bill is a significant step forward and would ask that you consider the overall need to keep our state and our country globally competitive by addressing our current immigration problems.”
 
Click here to read the entire letter to Sen. Toomey.
 

BUSINESS TAXES/TAX REFORM

Pennsylvania's economic growth is woefully inadequate compared to other states.  Pennsylvania’s Gross Domestic Product continues to trend below the US average rate and the Commonwealth continues to lose its working population as other states gain job creators and workers.  Pennsylvania’s tax structure contains some of the highest rates and most restrictive provisions in the nation.  Several of these tax changes were adopted as part of the 1991 tax increase that US News and World Report classified at the time as one the "Worst Economic Decisions in the Nation."  Study after study shows Pennsylvania’s business taxes to be among the highest and least competitive in the nation.  This fact was exacerbated in 2009 when the scheduled phase-out of the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax was reversed and the rate retroactively increased to 2.89 mills.  The “sticker shock” of high taxes makes it difficult to show a business relocation prospect all of Pennsylvania’s many attributes.  To be competitive, it is essential that Pennsylvania changes its high tax perception.  Pennsylvania’s business community recommends the following steps be taken regarding Business Taxes.

Legal Reform in Pennsylvania

Governor Tom Corbett and the Pennsylvania General Assembly are unanimous in their belief that we must deal constructively with the budgetary and fiscal issues that confront the Commonwealth while we work to create jobs.  

True, permanent, and comprehensive legal reform would create jobs and stimulate investment in the Commonwealth while actually reducing the expenses of state, municipal, and school district governments. 

Philadelphia was recently ranked the nation’s number one “judicial hellhole” for its penchant to allow frivolous lawsuits to go forward while juries give super-sized damage awards.  Pennsylvania’s problems however, are not limited to the confines of the City of Brotherly Love. 

Injured parties must be treated fairly, but justice doesn’t have to come at a price that threatens innovation, competition, and profitability.  Legal reform will cut the cost of health care, government services, and doing business in Pennsylvania.  Here in Pennsylvania, the victims are people like the citizens of Hazelton, whose community pool was shut down due to an abusive lawsuit. Watch their story below:

 

GOVERNOR CORBETT'S FY 2013-2014 BUDGET

The Pennsylvania Business Council (PBC) was pleased with Governor Tom Corbett’s proposed state budget plan that champions growing Pennsylvania’s economic climate for both workers and employers, makes a commitment to long-term transportation reform, reforms Pennsylvania’s pension program, and maintains the administration’s vision of a strong education system for Pennsylvania.  “A budget that develops a competitive economic structure for Pennsylvania businesses and promotes reform in big issues like transportation and pension costs is a step in the right direction for Pennsylvania,” PBC President & CEO David W. Patti stated. 

The business community expected a powerful budget proposal that would offer solid solutions to tough problems, the executive said.  “Governor Corbett’s proposal continues last year’s promise to phase-out the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax (CSFT) and also makes commitments to reduce the Corporate Net Income (CNI) Tax and increase the Net Operating Loss (NOL) Cap.  These initiatives make Pennsylvania’s business climate more attractive to job creators and puts more Pennsylvanians back to work,” Patti declared.

In addition to a commitment to bolster Pennsylvania’s economy, Governor Corbett’s proposal introduced a long-term transportation reform plan; something that, according to Patti, many of his organization members were ready to see happen.  “Good infrastructure is the underlying framework for effective business in Pennsylvania.  Everyone, from construction workers to the daily commuter, benefits from this plan,” Patti said.  The Corbett Administration will generate funds for transportation by raising a cap set on a tax on wholesale gasoline sales.  The tax is estimated to generate 1.8 billion dollars for the Commonwealth per year, which will provide Pennsylvania the funds it needs to get to work on its transportation system, according to Corbett officials.  The Corbett Administration identified public safety and job creation as its main motivations for the reform.

Click here for a complete budget briefing. 

      

 

 

ENERGY AFFORDABILITY AND AVAILABILITY

To be competitive, Pennsylvania businesses must be able to procure plentiful, reliable, and affordable energy. This requires an infrastructure system and a regulatory climate that fosters generation, transmission, and distribution systems throughout the Commonwealth.  The United States is at an historic turning point for the country and its energy policies.  Energy powers our economy and our lives—without it, we are quite literally in the dark. Without access to affordable and reliable supplies of energy, Pennsylvania businesses are forced to move elsewhere, taking jobs and support for the economy with them and impacting our global competitiveness. 

With America in the midst of an economic recession, now is not the time to impose new taxes and fees on the nation’s oil and natural gas industry. New taxes and fees kill jobs.  New taxes hurt business and could result in higher prices to consumers.  Higher taxes and fees are a burden felt throughout the economy and discourage business expansion, investment and job creation.  Now more than ever our nation needs to move away from the energy politics that have failed so badly over the past decades and put our nation’s own resources to work for American consumers.

Pennsylvania’s business community recommends the following steps be taken in the area of Energy Affordability and Availability

 

HEALTH CARE AFFORDABILITY AND AVAILABILITY FOR EMPLOYERS & INDIVIDUALS

To be competitive, Pennsylvania citizens and our businesses must have the ability to access affordable health care.  According to recent data, more than 90 percent of Pennsylvanians are covered by health care insurance.  For many, their insurance is purchased in whole or in part by their current or former employer, or spouse’s employer.  Mandated health care benefits, excessive medical liability claims, and other factors combine to drive health care cost increases at alarming rates.  Pennsylvania’s business community recommends the following steps be taken to address Health Care Affordability and Availability

INFRASTRUCTURE

To be competitive, Pennsylvania must improve and sustain its infrastructure as well as the innovations supporting our infrastructure industry.  Infrastructure innovations remain a fast-growing segment of the Pennsylvania economy.  Plus, employers rely on roads and rail to get raw materials in and finished goods out to market.  Employees need roads, bridges, and mass transit systems to get to their jobs so they can earn a living.  Telecommunications and broadband access are essential to the economic growth of Pennsylvania.  Portions of the Commonwealth remain woefully underserved and are cut-off from the economic power of the Internet.  All of us depend on water and sewer systems to operate effectively every day.  Pennsylvania’s business community recommends the following steps be taken to address Infrastructure

LABOR

To be competitive, Pennsylvania must have a level labor playing field that does not discriminate against workers based on affiliation or lack thereof with any group, must allow the marketplace to determine wages and benefits, must allow the same rules to apply to all groups regarding apprenticeship and training and must not require compulsory membership in any labor-related group as a condition to employment.  Pennsylvania's business community recommends the following steps be taken in the area of Labor Issues.

COMPREHENSIVE LEGAL REFORM

To be competitive, Pennsylvania must enact reforms to make the state's legal system fair, predictable, and even-handed.  Pennsylvania’s business community encourages the following steps be taken on Comprehensive Legal Reform

IMPROVE WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT AND EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT

Pennsylvania needs a skilled workforce. The bottomline for business is the continuing need for employees who will arrive at work every day without being under the influence of drugs or alcohol; be able to work in a group environment; read and give written instructions; make effective use of oral communication skills; perform basic math functions necessary for the job; and often operate a piece of technology or equipment.  In today’s marketplace, “hand skills” are as important as “head skills.”  Advanced education and college are required for about 25 percent of careers, but by no means all careers.  Half of all careers are described as “skilled” and are available to people who possess post-secondary technical or vocational education.  These are very good, high wage, pleasant career opportunities.  Unfortunately, some public school and government education and workforce development programs are based on out-of-date industrial models, some are not designed to meet current needs, some lack employer input, some come at a high cost with a low benefit, and some are poorly coordinated with other programs. Pennsylvania’s business community strongly encourages the Commonwealth to regularly undertake a comprehensive review of existing education and workforce development programs to make sure that each is achieving high quality results at an acceptable cost-per-student. These reviews should include a cost-benefit analysis, and the information from these reviews should be made readily available to the public.  Pennsylvania's business community encourages the following steps be taken on Workforce Development.