Business Community Reacts To Corbett Budget

The Citizens Voice

Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed budget eliminates a regressive business levy, enhances tax credits and realigns some economic-development programs.

“Pennsylvania is really on the map for two consecutive budgets where the state is spending less than it spent the year before,” said David Patti, president and chief executive of the Pennsylvania Business Council, a Harrisburg-based policy group including chief executives of the state’s largest employers. “I think for the business community, there are signals that there’s more good things to come down the road.”

The $27.1 billion plan calls for cutting overall spending one-tenth of 1 percent, keeps taxes the same and would phase out the capital stock and franchise tax, a property levy on a company’s value or assets.

“It applies whether you are making money or not,” said Austin Burke, president of the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce.

“It doesn’t matter if you have any profits, you pay the tax,” Patti said. “It’s based on your assets.”

The elimination of the tax “is a good thing for job-creation efforts,” Burke said.

“Any effort to lower the corporate tax burden and increase the incentives that are available to companies can only improve our chances of recruiting new companies and creating new jobs,” said James Cummings, a vice president at Mericle Commercial Real Estate Service, the region’s largest property and economic development concern.

The budget also would continue several tax-credit programs affecting neighborhoods, education, research and development and job creation.

“This provides an alternative vehicle that can be tailored to a community’s needs,” Burke said of the neighborhood and education programs.

A consolidated Department of Community and Economic Development program would offer $25 million in grants for job creation, work force development and infrastructure.

“Anything that would make the application process easier would be warmly received by the business community,” Cummings said.

“It takes existing programs, tries to streamline them and put them together,” Patti said. “They spend less, but get more for it.”

The DCED program will help state companies defer some costs for expansion and job creation, Burke said.

“It essentially lowers the cost of doing business,” he said.

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