Supporting Economic Competitiveness through a Strengthened Education System

The Lancaster Chamber of Commerce & Industry recognizes that Pennsylvania's citizens require an effective, adequately funded education system that strives to continuously strengthen our economic competitiveness. To that end, The Lancaster Chamber affirms its support for education reform efforts that adequately fund all school districts through increasing the percentage of state funding, while ensuring for accountability. The Lancaster Chamber recommends that the Governor and General Assembly advance the education reform proposal and initiate an adequately funded, reform-minded public education system prior to the summer recess.

The Board of Directors of The Lancaster Chamber approved a resolution on education in January, 2003 and updated our resolution in June, 2003 to also affirm the following education principles:

Building Economic Competitiveness -
For Pennsylvania to maintain and strengthen its economic competitiveness, we need an education system that produces a qualified workforce and a competitive, equitable tax structure.

Pennsylvania's education and tax systems are not effectively working to encourage economic competitiveness, which has resulted in:

  • A lack of public school attainment as reflected by the top 100 schools ranking, which does not include a single Pennsylvania school,
  • A declining population,
  • An increasing unemployment rate, and
  • One of the highest corporate tax rates nationwide, including the third highest corporate net income tax rate in the nation

Identifying Needed Reforms -
We are supportive of the Governor's education initiatives that seek to establish adequate resources for school districts, while strengthening educational attainment through early childhood education, accountability, and other mechanisms.

Funding To Achieve Results -
For each district to receive adequate, constant, and predictable resources, we acknowledge that a shift in public education funding will be required. This shift will require increasing the state contribution to education. It should address geographic variability among schools and it may result in a transfer of primary education funding from local property taxes to the state personal income tax.

The shift to increased state funding of education will have two major impacts:

  • A State level liability that will likely result in some form of a tax increase,
  • A likely reallocation of funds between districts to equalize the education investment among various school districts.

We must address this state level liability through a change in the tax structure to fund public education, while balancing the financial demands placed on Pennsylvania businesses.

Timing and Implementation-

We urge the Governor and General Assembly members to work cooperatively to immediately advance the education proposal in the legislature. Pennsylvania school districts, parents, and, most importantly, students, require an effective, adequately funded public education system.

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