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Editorial: Legislative outcome wouldn't cut it in business

Employers, how long do you keep an underperforming worker on staff?

Not long, you say.

Now ask yourself: How long would you be in business if you had an entire staff who couldn't do the job you hired them to do?

Not long, you say again.

Then what should we make of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, which passed the state budget on time again this year but failed to bring legislation to Gov. Corbett on any of the major issues facing the commonwealth, including road and bridge construction, pension reform and liquor privatization?

That's a staff of 253 well-compensated employees to whom you, the taxpayer, also give good benefits, ample resources and lots of time off.

Sure, lawmakers took care of some items that will have a major effect on business. Eliminating the inheritance tax on small, family-owned businesses is most welcome. There is an increase in the state development budget and money for private-sector job creation through PA First. Tourism got a budget boost. The net operating loss cap was increased to $4 million, or 25 percent of taxable income, in 2014 and will go to $5 million, or 30 percent of taxable income, in 2015 and beyond.

But in the business world, if a project comes in on time while leaving major components incomplete, there are consequences.

The failure to address pension reform will continue to hit businesses in the pocket, because the rising pension debt forced the legislature to delay ending the capital stock and franchise tax for two years. Meanwhile, property taxes continue to rise as school boards and municipalities struggle to meet their pension obligations.

Decaying roads and increasing bridge weight limits mean all Pennsylvanians will pay more for goods and services as transportation costs rise.

Continuing the state monopoly on liquor sales is contrary to free market principles and squelches opportunity for private enterprise in that business sector.

The inability of the House and Senate to work together, the lack of will to forge ahead regardless of whether the executive provides leadership and the reluctance to compromise are inexcusable. "My way or the highway" may resonate in politics, but it doesn't work in governance.

Also difficult to stomach is lawmakers' hurry this week to bolt Harrisburg and start their summer recess when a few more days in session might have made a difference.

Legislators protest that time away from Harrisburg is important because it puts them directly in touch with constituents. We hope voters give them an earful about the work left undone this legislative session.

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