PA Chamber Applauds Wolf Budget Proposal’s Focus on Bipartisan Workforce Efforts

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry President and CEO Gene Barr issued the following statement in regard to Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2020-21 budget address:

“We applaud and support the governor’s continued focus on addressing Pennsylvania’s workforce issues and closing an existing jobs skills gap.  This is an issue that impacts businesses of all sizes across all industry sectors – in fact for the second year in a row, employers ranked it as their top of mind issue in the PA Chamber’s Annual Economic Survey.  And it’s one that’s preventing the Commonwealth from moving forward.  The past year – including the enactment of a first-of-its-kind ‘Clean Slate’ Act — has demonstrated the powerful impact of lawmakers working in a bipartisan fashion, and we look forward to continuing this momentum in the year ahead.  We’re pleased to continue our work with the Governor’s Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center and legislative leadership to raise awareness of the concerns and needs of the business community in the state’s evolving jobs market and identify innovative solutions to addressing the jobs skills gap and removing barriers to work.

“We agree that the state’s Corporate Net Income Tax rate – which has the second highest effective rate in the nation – is too high and needs to be reduced.  We encourage lawmakers to move forward with substantial state tax reform – starting with a reduction to the CNI rate – that is based on the principles of competitiveness, fairness, predictability and simplicity. 

“We remain concerned, however, about the administration’s aggressive proposal to more than double the state’s minimum wage to $15, which will increase labor costs and could lead to significant job loss. A recent report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that a $15 minimum wage could lead to as many as 3.7 million lost jobs.  It’s also important to note that while the government mandated wage hasn’t increased, a report by the state’s Independent Fiscal Office shows that entry level workers in the Commonwealth are not likely to remain at the starting wage level, instead seeing wage gains shortly after entering the workforce.  Rather than punitive government mandates that will hurt job creation and decrease the number of entry-level positions in the Commonwealth, lawmakers should pursue policies that target support to low-income families without risking jobs.”

BU Students Provide Free Web Design Services

Are you in need of a website for your business or group? Or do you have an existing website that was designed years ago and needs updating? Bloomsburg University mass communication students taking web design classes are making websites for local organizations, non-profits, churches, small businesses, clubs, and other agencies. The students provide design services free of charge, and by the end of the semester, they will provide a functioning website or updates to an existing website.

Clients will first meet with students on the BU campus on March 16, 18, or 20, at 1 p.m. or some other pre-arranged time. Design services are provided free of charge. However, there may be some costs in setting up the website. Custom domain names typically cost $15-20 per year, and students may recommend other upgrades depending on your needs. BU does not profit from this project.

If you’d like to know more about the project, or you aren’t sure if this is right for your business or organization, contact faculty member Dennis Frohlich at [email protected] or call him at 701-541-3608 by Friday, March 6.

Member News- February 5, 2020

Berwick, PA—In celebration of another year of community philanthropy, partnerships with generous donors and organizations, and many moving stories of impact, the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation will host its Annual Meeting on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. The event will be held at The Barn at Frosty Valley in Danville beginning at 8:30 AM.

Join the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation for an inspiring time of reflection as they listen and share stories of community giving from 2019. The free event and breakfast are open to all, though reservations are required. To reserve your spot, contact Katie Simpson at 570-752-3930 ext. 7 or [email protected] by February 19th.

The Central Susquehanna Community Foundation is grateful to everyone who has partnered with them and contributed to their story in 2019, and is looking forward to growing their impact in 2020!

The Central Susquehanna Community Foundation manages more than 280 charitable funds and makes grant investments throughout the region to improve the quality of life in the Central Susquehanna area. The Foundation partners with regional affiliates including the Berwick Health and Wellness Fund, Bloomsburg Area Community Foundation, Danville Area Community Foundation, Selinsgrove Area Community Foundation, and Sunbury Area Community Foundation. For more information, visit csgiving.org or call the Foundation at 1-866-454-6692.

Welcome New Member: Stuart Tank Memorial Association

More than 420 businesses and organizations belong to the Chamber to receive benefits and support efforts to strengthen their businesses and the region. Increased membership allows the Chamber to offer additional programs and benefits, have a stronger voice in advocacy and be involved in more activities and initiatives. The Chamber welcomes Stuart Tank Memorial Association to help us fulfill our mission.

The Stuart Tank Memorial Association is an organization that was established to acquire and maintain Berwick-built Stuart Tanks, and return them to Berwick as a memorial.  They strive to educate people on the historical significance of these tanks.  For more information, visit their website.

 

PA Chamber Warns of Negative Impacts of Proposed Minimum Wage and Overtime Policies

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

Ahead of his 2020-21 state budget address, Gov. Tom Wolf reiterated his support for policies the PA Chamber has consistently opposed, due to their negative impact on economic growth and job creation.

At a morning press conference on Tuesday, Jan. 28, the governor announced he is again pushing to more than double the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour; along with the approval of an overtime eligibility expansion rule that aims to dramatically expand – both in the near-term and automatically going forward – the scope of employees eligible for overtime pay, or time-and-a-half for any hours worked over 40 in a week.  This proposal would be unaffordable for many employers who would be forced to convert salaried employees into hourly positions so that hours can be closely monitored and overtime avoided.

The governor voiced renewed support for these measures following the House’s inaction on S.B. 79, compromise legislation that passed the Senate in a 42-7 vote and would have rescinded the overtime rule in exchange for a more gradual and modest increase in the state’s minimum wage, to $9.50 an hour.  While the PA Chamber has historically opposed minimum wage increases, the organization believes this legislation had merit and was the only viable option for stopping the overtime proposal, the economic impact of which could be even worse for the employer community.  

On Friday, Jan. 31, the state’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission voted to move forward with the overtime proposal; after which PA Chamber President Gene Barr issued a statement expressing the organization’s disappointment with approval of a policy that so many employers statewide had voiced multiple concerns with.

“In 2018, during the initial phase of the review process, hundreds of opposition comments were submitted from a wide range of stakeholders – including nonprofits, higher education, local governments, small businesses among many others,” Barr said. “Many of these concerns were echoed by IRRC, which directed the Department to re-engage with stakeholders and submit a revised proposal for consideration.

“Unfortunately, the proposal approved today is only minimally different from the Department’s initial proposal and largely disregards the concerns raised by stakeholders.  We urge the General Assembly to consider the true impact of this proposal and for each legislative chamber to issue disapproval resolutions rejecting the change.”