2021-2022 GRCA Pro-Business Policy Agenda
The Greater Reading Chamber Alliance (GRCA) serves as the front-line advocate for business and community. We provide a bridge between business, community and government – helping our federal, state and local officials to acknowledge the challenges businesses face, while providing business-friendly solutions to regulatory, legislative and workforce issues. Through lobbying, testifying, developing key relationships, grassroots activities, tracking bills and regulation, we promote a Local, State, and Federal Pro-Business Policy Agenda. GRCA will continue to work with our members and community to keep everyone engaged in the process to build our healthy, competitive business community.
Our interactive Action Center provides information on the latest advocacy news, hot topic issues, legislation, policies, and information on elections, voting, and elected officials and much more.
GRCA serves as the voice for business at all levels of government. We represent business and community interests and viewpoints on current issues facing the Greater Reading Region utilizing our established Policy and Position Process. We build effective relationships with our elected officials to be part of the process and promote our pro-business policy agenda focused on our economic vibrancy. Our engaged Business & Community Advocacy Council meets regularly to identify evolving policy/issues and promote our member driven pro-business policy agenda. While our Partners in Advocacy & Community Leadership support the transformational work including the Advocacy & Community Leadership Event series. With these priorities in place, we continue to lead, advocate, educate and inform members on the various issues that will affect them.
Modern, Safe, Efficient and Reliable infrastructure
GRCA ensures our infrastructure is adequately funded to enable construction and maintenance of our aging transportation and utility systems along with other infrastructure. Modern, safe, reliable and efficient Transportation Infrastructure Systems are a core function of government. Transportation systems and utility infrastructure is vital to attract and retain quality businesses to grow the economy, increase regional and Pennsylvania competitiveness, and retain/create jobs. This includes Transportation, Transit/Mobility, Energy, Broadband and Water/Wastewater. GRCA members support continued regulatory reform due to current impediments on improvements and skyrocketing costs. GRCA members support expanded opportunities for commuter systems through public and private investment in bus and rideshare capacity and the return of a passenger rail system between Reading and Philadelphia.
Supporting A Competitive Business Tax Structure/ Responsible Budget & Government Spending
GRCA encourages all levels of governments to work collaboratively towards a performance-based, on-time budgets, before new or higher taxes are considered to address deficit spending, entitlement programs, or new initiatives without reducing the effectiveness of essential government programs. Pennsylvania’s corporate taxes and tax rate continue to put the Commonwealth at a competitive disadvantage.
Comprehensive reforms of and reductions in business taxes continue to be necessary to help stimulate economic development and assist with recovery. At the federal level, Congress and the Administration must work collaboratively towards passing annual budgets and away from continuing resolutions. Government entities need to explore all opportunities for cost-savings and efficient spending before new or higher taxes are considered to cover increasing program costs or recovering budget deficits due to COVID-19. GRCA members support preserving the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) because it reduced the effective tax rate across all income brackets and continues to facilitate business investment in capital and employees. Comprehensive reforms of and reductions in specific business taxes are still necessary to help stimulate economic development in recovery.
Driving Recovery & Investing in Economic Growth
Support the funding of economic development programs that have positive social and economic impact in Berks County as we work through the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery. Limited liability protection from unnecessary COVID-19 litigation to protect businesses that operate in good faith needs to be established at both the federal and state levels.
Providing a Skilled Workforce
Economic viability and long-term prosperity for Greater Reading – Berks County depends upon a well-educated and skilled workforce, paired with a healthy talent pipeline that addresses the growing skills gap identified by our companies. Programs at all levels should prioritize existing jobs, skills shortages and talent retraining for jobs of the future.
Regulatory Reform & Government Collaboration
The business community needs continued regulatory reform from processes that impede infrastructure and business improvements and exacerbate costs. Permitting reform through increased transparency, consistent decision making, and continued reduction in the time needed to make permit decisions, coupled with limiting costs to businesses through regulatory and permit requirements is key to increasing economic development. GRCA members support collaborative approaches to regulatory and permit development and decision making at all levels to increase economic development while being environmental stewards. GRCA members oppose the practice of regulatory changes through executive action that seeks to circumvent a collaborative process with the Pennsylvania legislature and Congress.
Balancing Land Use & Responsible Development
Identifying the best strategy for responsible land use and development that maximizes economic development opportunity while retaining Berks County’s rich agricultural tradition benefits everyone. It is imperative that all government entities, businesses and community organizations work together for a shared vision of our future to ensure opportunities are shared equally across the county. GRCA members also support adding opportunities to increase and expand access for affordable housing options across the county that will help attract and maintain a local workforce base.
Balanced Labor & Employment Laws
Changes to labor relations and employment policies are necessary to facilitate a fair work environment and address abuse. GRCA members support reforms, including modernization, to the unemployment compensation, workers’ compensation and welfare systems that focuses on returning injured employees to full health and function. Employers oppose excessive mandates that unnecessarily increase the cost of doing business including the unnecessary and costly overtime rule changes and drastic and unsustainable increases in unemployment taxes due to COVID-19.
Affordable & Accessible Benefits
Berks County employers want to be able to offer workers quality, affordable health care options. GRCA will continue to advocate for reforms to health care, insurance and medical liability that will improve the system, providing flexibility to encourage (rather than mandate) and promote competition.