Pa. business leaders rap Wolf budget as too tax heavy

The sun sets on the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The sun sets on the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Even though consolidation was the name of the game in Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed budget, his plan for Pennsylvania still includes about a billion dollars in new taxes.

As such, the proposal has gotten a chilly reception from the commonwealth’s business leaders.

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

They include a provision to restructure corporate taxation across state lines; a severance tax on natural gas; and expansion of the sales tax to cover items such as 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, howvere, said 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.

“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.

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