With the state budget deadline quickly approaching and the General Election right around the corner, more than 100 state and local chamber representatives from across the Commonwealth gathered in Harrisburg on Tuesday, June 5 for Chamber Day at the State Capitol. The annual event, which is co-hosted by the PA Chamber of Business and Industry and the Pennsylvania Association of Chamber Professionals, provides a forum for constructive dialogue between representatives of local chambers and key policymakers on issues important to the state’s business community and the best ways to improve the Commonwealth’s business climate. Columbia Montour Chamber Board Vice Chair Dan Knorr (Bloomsburg University) and President Fred Gaffney were among the attendees.
“We are fortunate to have a strong network of chambers across Pennsylvania,” said Gaffney. “While the PA Chamber serves as our “boots on the ground” in Harrisburg, several of the legislators noted the importance of us coming together in Harrisburg to amplify our message. Being accompanied by members further strengthens the effort.”
Participants met with several elected officials throughout the day; including: Senate Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati, R-Jefferson; Speaker of the House Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny; House Appropriations Majority Chairman Stan Saylor, R-York; and Democratic Chairman Joseph Markosek, D-Allegheny. Policy discussions throughout the day were on a variety of topics, including: the 2018-19 state budget, the state’s opioid epidemic, workforce development, federal issues that impact employers, as well as the upcoming 2018 General Election. The luncheon speaker was Republican Gubernatorial candidate and former state Senator Scott Wagner.
As echoed at the Chamber’s recent legislative breakfast, it is expected that this year’s budget process will be less contentious than in recent years. Revenues are trending slightly higher than projected, making a balanced budget easier to achieve without borrowing from special funds and issuing bonds. Governor Wolf’s budget proposes an increase of 3.1 percent. Republican leaders stated that if the increase can be negotiated to around 2 percent, a budget could be finalized by June 30. There are no broad-based tax increases included in the Governor’s budget and Republican leaders do not expect some harmful business proposals to be in the final plan.