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Businesses concerned about Wolf budget

Andrea Funk, CEO, Cambridge-Lee Industries LLC
Andrea Funk, CEO, Cambridge-Lee Industries LLC

At least one prominent Greater Lehigh Valley CEO is concerned about the 2015-16 state budget proposed Tuesday by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf.

Andrea Funk, CEO of Cambridge-Lee Industries LLC in Ontelaunee Township, one of the top manufacturing companies in the region, says Wolf’s plan has, overall, a “flavor of tax and spend.”

The tax-and-spend method, of course, typically is not a favorite of businesses.

A story on how Greater Lehigh Valley businesses reacted to Wolf’s budget proposal will appear in Monday’s Mar. 9 print edition of Lehigh Valley Business. The story also will be available that day online.

Initially, one big challenge for businesses is being able to absorb and understand the many aggressive changes that Wolf has proposed. (The state budget needs approval from the state Legislature, so Wolf, a Democrat, likely will need to compromise with the Republican-controlled House and Senate on some of his ideas.)

Decreasing the corporate net income tax by half, supporting workforce development and increasing the minimum wage to more than $10 are some of Wolf’s big-ticket plans. He also is proposing to increase the sales tax and decrease the property tax, while enforcing a 5 percent tax on natural gas drilling.

Creating more manufacturing jobs is a big focus in the plan, too, and Wolf is proposing to reward companies that play a role in this.

So, to businesses, there is good – and there is bad – in the plan. Funk’s reaction, in an email to Lehigh Valley Business, shows both sides – including her disappointment that Pennsylvania’s looming crisis over funding public pensions was not addressed by Wolf.

Funk wrote:

“I can tell you that I am a little concerned and I must say a little confused by the governor’s budget proposal. Overall, it had a flavor of tax and spend, with redistributions that could have contradictory impacts for our residents, businesses and economy. With so many moving targets, it's hard to tell where it will all shake out.

“I believe the sales tax increases will slow down our much-needed recovery and that impact won’t be negated by the property tax decrease. While I strongly agree that employees deserve a fair wage for the work they perform at all levels within a company, this is an employer’s responsibility – not the government’s, and a minimum wage increase is not the way to get there. I also don’t believe the pension problem was addressed at its core, and that was a disappointment.

“On a positive note, I’m encouraged by the credits proposed for Pennsylvania manufacturers. Not only is this of personal interest to me, of course, but I believe growing Pennsylvania manufacturing, with the multiplier effect it has on job creation and the economy, is the best investment in our future and will pay back handsomely.

“For Cambridge-Lee, a manufacturing business that is growing, adding jobs and looking to invest in training for our skilled workforce, the credits could help give us a lift. We are proud to manufacture in Pennsylvania, and I was pleased to hear the governor promote our state’s rich manufacturing heritage and work ethic.”






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