Chamber Calls for Increased Child Care Funding

Following a $20 million cut to child care line items in the 2016-17 state budget, the spending plan passed earlier this spring in the House would reduce funding another $28 million. The proposed cuts would dramatically increase the waiting list for services and force families to make tough decisions on child care and possibly staying at home to take care of children. As proper child care and early childhood development have been shown to provide a solid foundation for developing social skills and life-long learning, the Chamber is asking Senate and House members to not only sustain, but consider increasing funding for child care.

Funding for child care is important for many reasons, including:

  • The proposed cuts to the Child Care Services and Child Care Assistance appropriations would eliminate services for more than 10,000 children and increase the waiting list for these services to 19,000 – the highest level in the state’s history. 
     
  • This funding supports child care subsidies for low-income working families, which allow parents to work while their children are in safe and stable child care. These cuts include:
    • a $10 million reduction that would negate the proposed expanded enrollment of 1,800 children on the child care waiting list;
    • the further reduction of $40.2 million in state funds that would mean the elimination of 6,885 children from the current program; and
    • a $12.7 million cut to the Child Care Assistance line item that provides for child care subsidies for families receiving TANF and SNAP and will potentially impact 2,018 low-income children receiving subsidies through this line item. 

The Governor’s budget proposal includes a $35 million increase for child care to begin to reverse this trend. Budget negotiations continue through June and both House and Senate leaders have said they will have a budget to the Governor by June 30.

Chamber Offers Support for Pipeline Project at DEP Hearing

On Tuesday, June 13, Chamber President Fred Gaffney issued comments in support of the Atlantic Sunrise Gas Pipeline Project at a hearing of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The hearing, held at the Bloomsburg High School, was specific to permits related to water obstruction and encroachment and erosion and sediment control. Pending approval of the permits, the project is expected to begin construction later this summer.

The Atlantic Sunrise Project, coordinated by Williams, will expand the Transco gas pipeline system with a new pipe approximately 185 miles long connecting the existing pipeline just north of Columbia County to southeast Pennsylvania. The project will allow more efficient transmission of Pennsylvania’s Marcellus natural gas. Construction will be divided into seven sections, and is expected to take one year. The economic impact for just Columbia County is estimated at $85.5 million.

The Chamber’s research indicates that modern pipeline technology provides among the safest methods of transporting natural gas. The Chamber Board previously passed a resolution supporting the expansion of Pennsylvania’s natural gas transportation and distribution pipeline infrastructure. Specific to this project, Williams has demonstrated its concern for property owners and the environment with the adoption of more than 400 route modifications affecting more than 60 percent of its original route.

More information on the DEP permit process is available on the agency’s website.

More information about the Atlantic Sunrise project is available here.

Columbia Montour Chamber Participates in Chamber Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More than 100 state and local chamber officials from across the Commonwealth, including Fred Gaffney, Columbia Montour Chamber President and Dan Knorr, Board Member, came together on Tuesday, June 6th to participate in 2017 Chamber Day.  The annual event, which is co-hosted by the PA Chamber of Business and Industry and the Pennsylvania Association of Chamber Professionals, allows local chambers to meet with key policymakers and discuss ways to improve Pennsylvania’s business climate and competitive edge. 

“While we have a good working relationship with our state delegation, it is beneficial to travel to Harrisburg from time to time to meet with legislators,” said Gaffney. “Chamber Day also provides the opportunity to show a unified voice statewide on issues of importance to employers.”

Participants met with elected officials and cabinet members throughout the day, including Gov. Tom Wolf, who served as the keynote speaker during the Chamber Day luncheon. Senate Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati, R-Jefferson, and Speaker of the House Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny both kicked off the event with welcoming remarks at the State Capitol.  The day-long event also featured policy discussions on a variety of topics, including: the 2017-18 state budget, pension reform, property taxes, workforce development, as well as the Commonwealth’s transportation and infrastructure needs. The legislature passed the pension reform plan during that week, which was signed by Governor Wolf on Monday, June 12th. As budget discussions continue, there was no clear plan provided for filling the budget gap estimated at nearly $3 billion.

Pension Reform Finally Passes

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

In a whirlwind of activity last week, the General Assembly passed and sent to Gov. Tom Wolf an important public pension reform bill that will help to rein in the what has been unsustainable growth of the state pension systems, shift a significant portion of the risk from potentially under-performing investments off of state taxpayers and help to secure the future sustainability of state and public school employees’ retirement plans. Governor Tom Wolf signed the legislation into law on Monday.

Senate Bill 1, which was passed 40-9 by the Senate last Wednesday and 143-53 by the House on Thursday, offers a choice of three new retirement plan options for new employees hired after 2019 within the State Employees Retirement System and the Public School Employees Retirement System, along with an opt-in provision for current workers.  Two of the choices offer hybrid defined benefit, defined contribution plans, while the third option is a defined contribution, 401k-style plan.

Prior to the Senate and House votes on the bill, the PA Chamber sent memos to both chambers urging their support for the measure. The memos noted that while the organization is ready to support additional steps to mitigate rising costs in the near term, it believes that S.B. 1 will put the state pension systems on a better path to stability and sustainability. These beliefs are strengthened through findings by the education advocacy organization PennCAN, which has found that few teachers do better under the existing PSERS pension plan than they would under a plan like S.B. 1; and from the Pew Charitable Trusts, which has noted that the bill would be one of the most – if not the most – comprehensive and impactful reform any state has implemented.

ChamberChoice Offers Free Three-Part Webinar on Health Insurance Cost Reduction Strategies

ChamberChoice will offer a special three-part webinar series titled “Health Insurance Cost Reduction Strategies” on the second Thursday of July-September. This service is available free-of-charge to all Chamber members as a benefit of membership through the Chamber’s affinity programs through ChamberChoice

The schedule and topics of the webinar series are listed below. For more information or to register for the webinar, visit here.

Thursday, July 13, 10 a.m. – Risk analysis: Understand health conditions and costs within your workforce to reduce future costs.

Thursday, August 10, 10 a.m. – Employee contribution strategies: Reduce employer expense and increase employee take-home pay (PSA, HRA, HSA).

Thursday, September 14, 10 a.m. – Healthcare cost transparency