State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Business advocates say Wolf's budget still has too many taxes

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Feb 14, 2017 7:31 PM
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The governor's proposal includes about a billion dollars of new revenues, much of which comes from taxes aimed at large businesses and corporations. (Photo by AP).

(Harrisburg) -- Even though consolidation was the name of the game in Governor Tom Wolf's proposed budget, it still includes about a billion dollars in new taxes.

As such, the proposal has gotten a chilly reception from the commonwealth's business advocates.

Gene Barr, executive director of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, has concerns about nearly all the governor's proposed revenue increases.

Those include a provision to restructure corporate taxation across state lines, a severance tax on natural gas, and expansion of the sales tax to cover things like custom software, which are largely used by businesses.

"We can't sit here and say, that's a great tax or that's a great approach," Barr said. "I mean all those things are just going to make Pennsylvania less competitive moving forward if we adopt them."

The Wolf administration, in contrast, says these measures would actually close unfair corporate loopholes.

The only scenario in which Barr said he might be amenable to a tax hike is if the revenue is earmarked to refill underfunded pension accounts, and if the increase doesn't negatively impact the state's competitiveness. 

"I hate to say it this way, but unless we do that, all else is irrelevant," said Barr, on pension reform.

He said that is currently his top priority as an advocate.

This story has been updated to clarify Barr's position on tax hikes.

Published in News, State House Sound Bites

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