House and Senate lawmakers both return to session this week, with the Senate convening Monday through Wednesday and the House coming in Tuesday through Thursday.
With less than six weeks to go before the end of the 2017-18 Fiscal Year, the General Assembly met some headwinds last week in their quest for funding to balance the coming year’s spending plan. A question that had been tied up in court concerned whether the General Assembly could transfer $200 million from the state’s Joint Underwriting Association to the general fund. This question was answered last week when a federal Judge Christopher Conner ruled it could not, explaining, “The association’s function is inherently private. It is, as its core, an insurance company …The commonwealth cannot take those funds without just compensation.” This order – which House GOP spokesman Steve Miskin called “overly broad,” could have larger implications on the Fiscal Code and means that the state will have $200 million less than it planned on for 2018-19. Wolf administration spokesman J.J. Abbott called the transfer “one of the many mechanisms passed by the General Assembly and signed into law to eliminate the deficit,” adding that the administration as reviewing the decision.
While elected officials contend with this new development, the PA Chamber is also urging lawmakers to pass legislation that would fix a recent anti-business ruling by the state Department of Revenue. Senate Bill 1056 – which passed the Senate late last month , and H.B. 2017 – which passed the House in March, would reverse the agency’s ruling issued last December that prohibits Pennsylvania taxpayers from taking advantage of 100 percent bonus depreciation when filing their corporate taxes, and would provide for a generally accepted depreciation schedule. The PA Chamber supports both bills as they would reverse the department’s action, which has made Pennsylvania less competitive and dissuades businesses from making purchases such as new equipment that would help to expand and improve their facilities.
State Senator John Gordner and PA Chamber director of government affairs Alex Halper will discuss these and other issues currently under consideration in Harrisburg at the Chamber’s spring legislative breakfast on Thursday, May 31 at the Greenly Center in downtown Bloomsburg. Cost is $20 for members and $30 for non-members, which includes a buffet breakfast.