Revenue Debates Continue as State Exhausts Short-Term Loan

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

Another week has gone by without the enactment of legislation that would finalize the 2017-18 state budget. As legislative leaders continue to negotiate behind the scenes on a plan that would warrant bringing the entire General Assembly back into session for a vote this month, the state has officially exhausted the funds on a $750 million loan that the Treasury Department issued earlier this month to keep the General Fund above a zero balance.

“While this short-term borrowing will be repaid by August 23rd, we forecast that without some action, the General Fund balance will again fall below zero by August 29th,” Treasurer Joe Torsella said in a statement. He further noted that the balance will fall to -$1.6 billion around Sept. 15; warned about a potential credit rating downgrade as a result of the ongoing impasse; and strongly indicated that future loans are no guarantee in these types of situations. “Treasury’s Short Term Investment Pool is not a Rainy Day Fund … an overly concentrated loan by the Pool to the General Fund – at a time when the underlying budget is $2.2 billion out of balance, revenues are declining, and we are still without an enacted revenue package – would represent a substantial investment risk,” Torsella added.

This being the case, lawmakers and the administration are certainly feeling more pressure to finalize budget negotiations. The Wolf administration – which has generally been optimistic about the status of the ongoing debate – are now saying that the House needs to come back to session and vote on the series of budget-related bills the Senate sent them late last month. The House hasn’t returned to Harrisburg since that time, due in large part because of what House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, recently told reporters – his caucus has concerns about some of the taxes included in the Senate bills.

The House’s next session day is Sept. 11, though members technically remain “on call” and could be asked to return to Harrisburg before then. The Senate is also on call, but isn’t scheduled to reconvene until Sept. 18.

Welcome McTish, Kunkel & Associates

More than 400 businesses and organizations belong to the Chamber to receive benefits and support efforts to strengthen their businesses and our region. Increased membership allows us to offer additional programs and benefits, have a stronger voice in advocacy and be involved in more activities and initiatives in our communities. The Chamber welcomes its newest member, McTish, Kunkel & Associates, to help us fulfill our mission.

McTish, Kunkel & Associates (MKA) is an engineering firm based in Allentown, with offices in Pittsburgh as well as locally in Montoursville. Founded in 1976, MKA offers engineering, environmental, construction inspection and survey & mapping services. In its early days, it focused on offering solutions to individual communities, and its focus has now evolved to the transportation networks that connect communities. Its markets now include transportation, energy exploration, development and generation, land development and municipal infrastructure. MKA has currently designed and permitted in excess of 800 miles of natural gas pipeline, as well as over 75 well pads in the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations. Many clients engage MKA to supply a portfolio of integrated services. For more information, call the Montoursville office at 570-368-3040 or visit the MKA website

Bucknell SBDC Needs Your Feedback to Help Plan Cybersecurity Programming

The Bucknell University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is in the process of planning its programming for the upcoming months and requests the assistance of Chamber members and the local business community to help identify the cybersecurity needs and interests of small businesses by completing this survey. It should take only about three (3) minutes to complete and it will be open until Sept. 10. The Bucknell SBDC thanks all respondents for their feedback. 

Working to Build a Stronger Workforce

Quality employees are important to any size and type of employer. The most successful businesses in our area, particularly those in manufacturing, often cite a skilled and dedicated workforce a key component of that success. The Chamber and its Foundation work to strengthen the area’s current and future workforce in supporting members. The Chamber’s Board of Directors recently approved a policy statement in support of workforce development efforts.

These efforts include:

  • Increasing the emphasis on and funding for internships, apprenticeships, and mentoring programs
  • Collaboration among high schools, technical schools, universities, and educators to meet the needs and concerns of the Commonwealth’s employers
  • Promoting vocational career pathways and earning potential to students at a young age
  • Training employers on workforce development best practices

While some of these efforts focus on skilled trades, others attempt to address issues cited by all types of employers, such as work ethic, lack of interpersonal skills, and an inability to communicate confidently and maturely. The Chamber and its Foundation are finalizing a workforce development plan in line with this policy.

Members Enjoy Networking Over Tasty Grilled Food at Ken Pollock Ford Lincoln

Chamber members enjoyed a full early-evening meal hot off the grill thanks to host Ken Pollock Ford Lincoln and also had a chance to check out the dealership’s wide selection of new and preowned vehicles in between networking at the first Business After Hours of the month on Wednesday, Aug. 16. A proud member of the local community, Ken Pollock Ford Lincoln will be renovating its showroom at its Berwick dealership in the coming months, and hopes to host another Chamber event in the future to show off the newly remodeled showroom when it is complete. For more information about Ken Pollock Ford Lincoln, visit its website, Ken Pollock’s overall auto group website, or call 888-527-0304. 

Business After Hours provide regular opportunities to build business relationships while learning about the services offered by other Chamber members. The next Business After Hours is on Wednesday, Aug. 30 at Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital, 549 Fair St., Bloomsburg, from 4:30-6:30 p.m.