Taxes Should Not Be Certain
Every Pennsylvanian pays the price for the “business unfriendly” climate that exists in our state. Undoing that mindset does not mean we have to bend over backward to be accommodating. It has everything to do with creating an atmosphere that decreases - not increases - costs for employers, unleashes our potential for economic growth and expands job opportunities for our citizens.

During a recent appearance on WHP-TV’s Sunday morning news program “Face the State,” I found an ally on the other side of the aisle. Former Lt. Gov. Mark Singel was serving as a guest commentator to supply the opposing point of view. While we have our differences, common ground was easily found on the belief that Pennsylvania is bogged down by overregulation to the point of impeding its ability to do business.

One example of this anti-business philosophy occurred well before Gov. Tom Wolf’s February budget address, during which he expressed his plan to pursue no new broad-based tax increases. Wolf failed to mention last December, when he circumvented the Legislature and discontinued the practice of allowing EVERY Pennsylvania business - from pizza shops to manufacturers - to depreciate assets on their state taxes. In doing so, he slapped business owners with what amounts to a $500 million tax that inevitably gets passed along to you, the consumer.

The Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association labels the decision “the antithesis of how to help the economy” and something that comes at a time when business confidence is high and companies are seeking new investment in the United States. State Rep. Frank Ryan of Lebanon County has authored legislation that would undo the Wolf policy decision. House Bill 2017 passed overwhelmingly last month and is on the move in the Senate.

Also working against businesses is the more than 153,000 regulatory restrictions that impact every industry in the Commonwealth. Lt. Gov. Singel pointed out there are duplicative regulations that hinder Pennsylvania’s progress toward true prosperity. Unfortunately, we lack a vehicle for reviewing and possibly repealing statutes and regulations. That is why I have authored House Bill 209, which would perform that duty and establish a rule that for every new regulation proposed by a department, two existing regulations must be offered for repeal. It would also create a website to receive suggestions and comments from the public, businesses and government agencies.

Jumping through regulatory “hoops” wastes time, and time is money. As a former small business owner, I can attest to the difficulty in getting an endeavor off the ground. Pennsylvania’s antiquated permitting process only makes things more difficult. No mechanism exists for a business to monitor where its permit application sits in the approval process. I support House Bill 1959, which would require all state agencies to make available on their websites a complete list of all permits which the agency administers. The legislation would also create a tracking system that additionally asks the agency to contact permit applicants if the appropriate paperwork is lacking in any way.

State government overall can be more efficient and it can’t ask more from taxpayers before it asks more of itself. Last summer, I helped form the Commonsense Caucus, a group of rank-and-file legislators that set out to avoid the broad based tax increases that were being framed as the only solution to balancing our budget. We uncovered lapsed and unspent taxpayer dollars sitting in special funds. We brought into the light “shadow budgets” that existed for purposes that in some cases are still undetermined. Many people in Harrisburg were prepared to again ring the register and tap the taxpayer. Pennsylvanians are not a credit card with an unlimited balance.

It was Ben Franklin who wrote, “Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” In Pennsylvania, relying on the taxpayer to cure our financial ills must not be our first response. State government has a job to do, and we must do it better. You’re counting on us.

Questions about this or any legislative issue should be directed to Phillips-Hill’s district office at (717) 428-9889 or 1-877-207-2272.

Representative Kristin Phillips-Hill
93rd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Scott Little
717.260.6137 /
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