PA Chamber Applauds Governor’s Focus on Workforce Development in 2019-20 Budget Proposal, Warns Against Policies That Will Hurt State’s Competitiveness

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

The 2019-20 budget process is officially underway and with it has come a renewed sense of optimism that a budget will be finalized by the June 30th constitutional deadline. With year-to-date revenue collections currently $290 million above estimate, the governor’s budget proposal does not include any broad-based tax increases. While making it clear there were some items in which they disagreed on, Republican legislative leaders have been quick to commend the governor for setting a bipartisan tone and emphasizing the issues on which elected officials can find common ground on.

As I noted in last month’s column, workforce development was a major theme of the governor’s address. This is an issue that crosses party lines and brings together groups that aren’t often on the same page when it comes to policy issues – a fact that the governor highlighted in his speech. As part of the administration’s efforts on this issue, the governor has signed an Executive Order creating the Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center – which aims to bring together the various elements of state government that oversee workforce development programs with the private sector to identify ways to close the jobs skills gap; fill the many open positions that exist throughout the state and make Pennsylvania more competitive on a national and global scale. I’m honored that the governor has asked me to help lead this effort. Joining me as a co-chair is Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale. With workforce development a cornerstone of the PA Chamber’s mission, we look forward to continuing to partner with the Wolf administration, elected officials and our counterparts in the labor community to develop innovative solutions to address the Commonwealths’ workforce challenges.

There are, however, some components of the governor’s budget proposal that cause concern for the state’s broad-based business community. Once again the Wolf administration has proposed tying a reduction in the state’s Corporate Net Income tax rate with the implementation of mandatory unitary combined reporting. While the PA Chamber has long argued that the state’s CNI tax rate – which is one of the highest effective rates in the nation – needs to be lowered, we disagree that it should be linked to a combined reporting proposal. This complex, overly broad tax reporting system will only lead to increased administrative and litigation costs and will put Pennsylvania at a greater competitive disadvantage.

Additionally concerning is the administration’s push for an aggressive increase to the state’s minimum wage rate. The administration’s plan calls for employers, in just a few months, to increase entry level wages by more than 65 percent. Restaurants – many of whom already operate on thin profit margins – would see their wages increase by more than 235 percent and ultimately by more than 500 percent, due to the governor’s plan to eliminate the tipped wage. We are warning lawmakers of the negative unintended consequences that result from mandated wage increases – which can include increased labor costs; reduced hours and even job loss. Also, it’s important to note that the actual demographics of the state’s minimum wage earners paint a much different picture than what wage proponents would have you believe. According to the PA Department of Labor and Industry’s Minimum Wage Advisory Board’s “2019 Minimum Wage Report,” the vast majority of minimum wage earners have no children and almost 60 percent are under the age of 25.

As part of our advocacy efforts on this issue, we are encouraging employers statewide to let us know how this proposal would impact their individual businesses. Being able to provide real-life examples from Pennsylvania job creators will help us make the case to lawmakers that they must pursue alternative solutions to help low-income Pennsylvanians without risking job loss and other negative impacts. Employers can share their feedback – which can remain anonymous – on the PA Chamber’s website.

Over the coming weeks, the PA Chamber will be working closely with our local chamber partners to urge lawmakers to enact a responsible spending plan that doesn’t place undue burdens on the backs of the Commonwealth’s job creators. Check the PA Chamber’s website for more information on all of these issues, as well as for updates on our advocacy efforts.

Member News – March 20, 2019

  • Currently, and running through April 4, the United Way of Columbia and Montour County is again offering free basic tax help to low and moderate-income residents in the community. This program will be held Tuesdays and Wednesday from 2-6 p.m. and Thursdays from 4-8 p.m. at Wesley United Methodist Church, located at 130 W. 3rd St., Bloomsburg (use the rear entrance). No appointments are necessary, only drop-offs and walk-ins will be accepted. For questions, call the United Way at 570-784-3134 or email, and see the flyer for additional information.


  • Commonwealth Health – Berwick Hospital Center is presenting a free six-week educational series titled “Six Weeks to Better Health” beginning running each Wednesday through April 17, from 12-1 p.m. at the Hospital’s Conference Room 1 and 2, located at 701 East 16th St., Berwick. The final session in the series will be held from 5-6 p.m. on April 17. Titles of the remaining sessions are: Why Do I need a Colonoscopy?; Living with Joint Disease; Solutions for Leg Pain and Swelling; Dealing with the Symptoms of Menopause; and Advanced Directives and Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST). For more information, see the flyer, and to RSVP, call 570-759-5337. 



  • In celebration of its 20 years of service, the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation (CSCF) held its Annual Meeting on March 6 at the Pine Barn Inn.

    L-R: Holly Morrison, CSCF president and CEO; Mike Flock, Youth in Philanthropy volunteer and former CSCF and Selinsgrove Area Community Foundation board member; John Kurelja, CSCF board member; Julie Eriksson, Selinsgrove Area Community Foundation board member and Robinson Fund representative; Gerard Stropnicky, story facilitator; Tina DeLong, Nurse-Family Partnership nurse and former client; Ellen Withrow, grant recipient with Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit and Women’s Giving Circle member; Mike Benjamin, Danville Area Community Foundation’s Holiday Happenings committee co-chair; Kayla Zambiasi, Nurse-Family Partnership nurse and former client; Cory Fasold, Sunbury Area Community Foundation board member and Mertz Fund representative; Janelle Surkin, Berwick Area YMCA and community volunteer; Sharon Hess, Volunteers in Philanthropy committee member and former Berwick Health and Wellness Fund Advisory Committee member; Mel Endy, Carol Deforest Locke-Endy Fund representative; Vincent Krum, Rechsteiner Family Scholarship Fund and Robin Buehner Kindness Scholarship Fund recipient; Kara G. Seesholtz, CSCF chief advancement officer; Tara King, grant recipient with Berwick Dental Health Clinic

    During the event, 14 inspiring stories were shared about the impact CSCF has had in communities throughout the Central Susquehanna region. The CSCF manages more than 260 charitable funds and makes grant investments throughout the region to improve the quality of life in the Central Susquehanna area. Central Susquehanna partners with regional affiliates including the Berwick Health and Wellness Fund, Bloomsburg Area Community Foundation and Danville Area Community Foundation. 


  • For The Cause is inviting area nonprofits, their boards and their prospective donors to a free 90-minutes conversations on smarter giving and fundraising strategies on Wednesday, March 27, from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Teen Center, located at 1130 Sixth Ave., Berwick. They’ll discuss how to recognize donors, maximizing gift impact potential, minimizing taxes, and more. Seating is limited, so please RSVP by March 22 by email. For more information, see the flyer.


  • Bloomsburg University’s Professional U program will host a Marketing, Management and Communications Career Connections Expo on Thursday, March 28, from 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. in the Kehr Union Ballroom on the BU campus. Any employer looking to recruit business or communications students would benefit from participating. Employers interested in participating should call 570-389-3791 or email


  • The Weis Center for the Performing Arts will host internationally-distinguished string quartet, the Aizuri Quartet, on Sunday, March 31, at 2 p.m. in the Weis Center Atrium.

    The Aizuri Quartet

    The performance is free and tickets are not required. The Aizuri Quartet will present a new project, Intricate Machines, which pairs the acclaimed quartet with rising American composers Nina C. Young, Sky Macklay, Daniel Temkin, Phil Taylor and Katherine Balch. The five works on the program were all written since 2013, and feature composers of diverse styles, sensibilities, and geographic locales. 


  • Employees of all Chamber members are invited and welcome to attend Bloomsburg University Professional U’s Don’t be Fooled by the Fork networking dinner on Monday, April 1, at 6 p.m. at Monty’s on the BU Upper Campus. This dinner is an opportunity for BU students to practice professional networking and dining etiquette in a social setting among alumni and professional volunteers. Chamber members are welcome to join this event as role models and table hosts, and impart your wisdom to current students as they learn how to conduct themselves in a professional dining situation. There is no charge to attend this event and the meal is complimentary, however donations are appreciated in the form of a plate sponsorship ($40) or table sponsorship ($280). Register and make any voluntary donations online by March 22.

32nd Annual Central Susquehanna Builders Association Home Show Set for This Weekend

The Central Susquehanna Builders Association will hold its 32nd annual Home & Outdoor Living Show this weekend, March 22-24, at the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds. This annual home show brings together dozens of builders, realtors, lenders and various other home accessory and improvement organizations together to display their products and services to thousands of attendees over the course of the weekend. The event will be held in both the Arts & Crafts and Industrial Arts Buildings.

Admission to the event is $5 and the hours of operation are Friday from 3-8 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Several other Chamber members are scheduled to be in attendance as vendors, including: AC&R Service, Inc., Associated Insurance Management, Bear Rental, Boulder Landscape, Carriage Manor Builders, Century 21 Mertz & Associates, Chip Adams Sewer and Drain, First Columbia Bank & Trust, First Keystone Community Bank, Garvey’s Flooring America, Larry C. Frace Inspections, Robert G. Dent Heating & AC, Inc., Service 1st Federal Credit Union, Swank & Son Well Drilling and Pump Co., and XW Construction.

Welcome Providence Engineering Corporation

More than 400 businesses and organizations belong to the Chamber to receive benefits and support efforts to strengthen their businesses and our region. Increased membership allows us to offer additional programs and benefits, have a stronger voice in advocacy and be involved in more activities and initiatives in our communities. The Chamber welcomes its newest member, Providence Engineering Corporation, to help us fulfill our mission.

Founded in 1992, Providence Engineering provides design and analysis services to the building design and construction industry, which includes structural design and drafting services for new buildings, renovations, remodeling and additions to existing buildings. Its services also include construction means and methods designs, engineer of record services, construction compliance design, bridge enclosures and a niche experiences in the realm of food process and cold storage design. Its headquarters is located in Lancaster, Pa., with a local office in Muncy at 23 South Main St. For more information, visit its website, call 570-935-0129, email or visit its Facebook page.

Chamber Foundation Hosts Future Careers Expo

On March 5, The Foundation of the Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce hosted the 2019 Future Careers Expo.  This year’s expo featured 30 organizations and over 70 representatives from healthcare, manufacturing, law enforcement, education, conservation, amusement and more.  This event was an opportunity for area high school and middle schools students, and their parents, to meet with organizations to hear about opportunities today and for their future.  Over 140 students attended the event, held at Central Columbia High School, to speak to company representatives about the opportunities they offer, and the best educational and skills pathways to those careers.

Students attended from Berwick, Central Columbia, Millville, Warrior Run, Columbia-Montour Vo-Tech, Southern Columbia School Districts, as well as, Berwick New Story and Home School.  The room was electric with conversation about the endless possibilities offered in our area.  The Foundation is proud to share that we were also able to award five $100 Future Scholarships thanks to the Arconic Foundation to the following students:

  • Michelle B – Central Columbia High School
  • Sabrina D – Millville High School
  • Zachary P – Central Columbia High School
  • Lillian W – Warrior Run Middle School
  • Archer Q – Berwick New Story

This year’s event was great success, thanks to the companies, students, parents and school districts participation.  The plan is to capitalize on the success of having this event at local high schools, and rotate this event to other districts in Columbia and Montour counties.  Look for information about next year’s event for your opportunity to participate. 

The Foundation would like to thank our sponsors for the event: Arconic Foundation, SEKISUI SPI, Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital, PPL Electric Utilities, Kawneer, USG, Williams, The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce, Bloomsburg University, Central Columbia School District, Central Susquehanna Community Foundation, Key Partners, M&T Bank, North Shore Railroad, Service 1st Federal Credit Union and Penn College.