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Core Mission: Competitiveness

The goal of Pennsylvania policymakers should be to make it the smart business decision for employers to locate, expand, and hire here in this commonwealth rather than in one of our competitor states.  Likewise, the goal of federal policymakers ought to be to optimize conditions for economic growth in the United States so American businesses can compete worldwide. This means we must restrain state spending, enact pro-growth business tax relief, provide limits on lawsuit abuse, improve the regulatory climate, and ensure we have a trained workforce. Our state government cannot tax-and-spend the way to good fortune for all; but we can grow the private sector by attracting new business investments and expanding the tax base, then prosperity will surely follow.

 


 

PUBLIC PENSION REFORM

Little progress can be made on other pressing fiscal issues without first addressing the growing burden on Pennsylvania taxpayers that is the pension crisis. Pennsylvania’s two pension systems’ debt outweighs their assets by more than a combined $60 billion. Pennsylvania’s business community supports comprehensive public pension reform that treats employees fairly, while minimizing market risks to the taxpayer and reining in the unsustainable unfunded liability costs that threaten to engulf state, municipal, and school district budgets.

 

PRIVITIZING LIQUOR SALES

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, as alcohol is a controlled substance. However, the commonwealth’s continued control of the retail, wholesale, and distribution function for wine and spirits thwarts private investment through the perpetuation of this public monopoly. Anything less than a full divesture will harm market growth as private industry cannot compete with a government monopoly.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION

It is imperative that Pennsylvania not enact laws or regulations that place Pennsylvania at a competitive disadvantage to our competitor states.  Laws and regulations should not be more stringent than federal regulations or laws unless there is a compelling reason that is unique to our commonwealth. 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 sound scientific evidence to ensure that regulations are reasonable and within technological limits.  It is likewise prudent that these regulations actually achieve real environmental benefits and do not advantage one sector of the economy to the detriment of another.

 

BUSINESS 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.  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 reforms business taxes to enhance our overall business competitiveness. 

 

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

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 employer, or spouse’s employer purchases their insurance in whole or in part. Mandated health care benefits, excessive medical liability claims, and other factors combine to drive health care cost increases at alarming rates. While the Federal Government continues to grapple with the topic of health care affordability and accessibility, Pennsylvania lawmakers should not place more stringent laws and regulations than exist federally to ensure health care costs remain as low as possible.  

 

INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT

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 POLICY REFORM

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.  Labor organizations ought to earn members the same way that businesses earn customers. Additionally, workers compensation and unemployment compensation policies must be sound, solvent, and aim to reintegrate those that are able back into the workforce.

 

COMPREHENSIVE LAWSUIT ABUSE REFORM

Philadelphia was recently ranked the nation’s top “judicial hellholes” 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.

To be competitive, Pennsylvania must enact reforms to make the state's legal system fair, predictable, and even-handed. 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. Injured parties must be treated fairly, but justice doesn’t have to come at a price that threatens innovation, competition, and profitability.

 

WORKFORCE READINESS AND EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT

Pennsylvania needs a skilled workforce. Businesses have a 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, government education, and workforce development programs are based on out-of-date industrial models. Pennsylvania’s business community strongly encourages the Commonwealth to regularly undertake a comprehensive review of existing education and workforce development programs to ensure that each is achieving high quality results at an acceptable cost-per-student.


Featured Video

PA Competitiveness with Sen. Mike Regan

Top Issues

The goal of Pennsylvania policymakers should be to make it the smart business decision for employers to locate, expand, and hire here in this commonwealth rather than in one of our competitor states. Likewise, the goal of federal policymakers ought to be to optimize conditions for economic growth in the United States so American businesses can compete worldwide. This means we must restrain state spending, enact pro-growth business tax relief, provide limits on lawsuit abuse, improve the regulatory climate, and ensure we have a trained workforce. Our state government cannot tax-and-spend the way to good fortune for all; but we can grow the private sector by attracting new business investments and expanding the tax base, then prosperity will surely follow.

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