Op-Ed: Employers are Fleeing California – and NOT Coming to Pennsylvania

A recent CNBC news report detailed the stories behind the 18,000 businesses that have left California in recent years to find refuge in states with more business-friendly tax and regulatory laws. It begs the question – why aren’t these businesses relocating to Pennsylvania?

Unfortunately, the Keystone State’s economic climate is honestly not much better than California’s. Our corporate tax rate is the third-highest in the country, and Governor Wolf’s budget proposals constantly threaten to raise taxes on small employers, energy companies and middle-class families. These polices not only fail to attract jobs and investment to Pennsylvania, but also has led to losing jobs here.

How can we expect to attract entrepreneurs from other states today when we are just three weeks removed from our governor calling for a 46 percent income tax increase on small employers and an energy tax that chases investment away from our communities? The unilateral carbon tax created by the governor as part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative only makes the situation worse.

Our state’s response to COVID-19 was similarly terrible for most employers. The data show that Governor Wolf closed too many employers in too many industries, and kept those businesses closed for too long. The latest employment figures demonstrate the economic devastation; from December 2019 to December 2020, Pennsylvania lost an estimated 370,000 jobs.

If we want to help our communities recover from COVID-19 and create an environment for job growth, we must work with our employers to support healthy economic policies, instead of allowing existing state policy and stubborn ideology to work against them.

Rather than accepting our current state of mediocrity and allowing us to languish among the worst business tax climates in the country, we should position our Commonwealth as a place of opportunity that creates quality jobs and remains a great place to live, learn, work and play. That means pursuing pro-growth policies that will send a strong message that Pennsylvania is open for business.

My colleagues and I have introduced several bills to accomplish these goals, including a bill I proposed to ban discriminatory project labor agreements; small business assistance measures proposed by Senator Ryan P. Aument; enacting small business reforms including like kind exchanges, net operating loss deductions and expense deductions; addressing the growing regulatory burdens and permitting process delays that create obstacles to economic growth; and providing immediate tax relief to businesses suffering as a result of the pandemic.

These bills and other employer-friendly tax and regulatory reforms could pave the way for Pennsylvania to emerge from COVID-19 stronger than ever before. Confronting these challenges now will not be easy, but it is critical to ensure our Commonwealth reaches its fullest potential, to grow and create more family-sustaining jobs and ensure we do not become another California.

CONTACT:  Terry Trego (717) 787-6535

Op-ed: Lancaster County Deserves a Voice in VGT Debate

By Senators Scott Martin and Ryan P. Aument

Legalized gambling can permanently change the character and culture of a community. For that reason, every municipality should have the right to refuse to host any kind of expanded gambling activity.

When lawmakers voted in 2017 to expand gambling throughout the state, they gave every community the ability to opt out of having a new mini-casino created within their borders. Here in Lancaster County, every single municipality passed a resolution to prohibit a new gaming venue from being established here.

It was a strong statement that showed the entire county standing in solidarity against new gambling venues. And yet, the law still permitted some gambling activities to creep into Lancaster County in the form of video gaming terminals – or VGTs – in truck stops. Unlike mini-casinos, VGTs were allowed to be placed here without the consent of the municipalities that would host these new gambling venues.

As a result, two municipalities in Lancaster County are already embroiled in lawsuits regarding VGTs. More could follow. This not only means that Lancaster County municipalities are being forced to host gambling activities they do not want, but are also being forced to pay for the resulting legal bills with the tax dollars of hardworking county residents.

This troubling situation does not serve the interests of anyone except for the people who profit from gambling. It certainly does not serve the interests of municipalities and the people they represent.

That is why we have introduced legislation that would give municipalities the ability to opt-out of allowing VGTs by passing a resolution to that effect. The bill would restore the principle of local control over the expansion of gambling.

The process for a municipality to prohibit expanding gaming is not new; in fact, it is the exact same procedure that was put in place regarding the creation of mini-casinos. We are not trying to break new ground with this bill. We only want to give our municipalities a voice in the debate over legalized gambling.

Thankfully, this legislation is already gaining traction in the General Assembly. The Senate Local Government Committee recently approved our bill, and it is hoped that the legislation will receive a vote by the full Senate in the weeks or months ahead.

The people of Lancaster County deserve to have a say in whether our communities will remain free from the powerful reach of gambling interests. We will keep fighting to make that goal a reality.

 

CONTACT: 
Terry Trego (717) 787-6535 (Senator Martin)
Ryan Boop (717) 787-4420 (Senator Aument)