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Lancaster chamber releases statement on Pa. budget

By , - Last modified: May 18, 2012 at 11:56 AM

The Lancaster Chamber of Commerce & Industry supports Gov. Tom Corbett's approach to the state budget, according to a position statement the organization released this morning.

The chamber "supports the governor's commitment to strengthen the financial foundation of our state government" through "aligning the state's resources with the core functions and priorities of government," the statement said.

As in previous years, the chamber declined to comment on specific budget provisions. Instead, it called for broad changes it said would improve Pennsylvania's business climate, including reform of business taxes, unemployment insurance, prevailing wage and the state pension system.

In a separate position paper on the education budget, the chamber reiterated its calls for pension and prevailing wage reform and also called for two-year budgeting and for permitting school districts to furlough staff for budget reasons.

"Flexibility and more trust in local decision making would go a long way" toward achieving state education goals, the chamber said. "From a business point of view, our future depends on it."

Corbett's $27.1 billion budget proposal for 2012-13 would cut higher education funding by 20 percent to 30 percent and social services funding by about 20 percent. The allocation for K-12 education would remain roughly unchanged from last year, but pension contributions would draw an increasing share, resulting in cutbacks to funding for current operations.

Senate Republicans on May 9 approved a $27.7 billion counterproposal that restores about $500 million in education funding. Both their plan and Corbett's include $275 million in business tax cuts.

The state's fiscal year begins July 1.

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