Harrisburg, PA — Pennsylvania’s business climate is “average” to “above average” when compared to the rest of the nation, but the pace of business climate reform needs to speed up if the commonwealth’s economy, compared to other states, is going to produce a positive national impact and attract new employers.
Those are some of the key findings of a survey of 110 Pennsylvania-based economists by the Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, Inc. Only 24% of the economists surveyed felt the pace of business climate reform in the state has been proceeding fast enough for Pennsylvania to gain ground relative to other states. Thirty-five percent of the economists said the state needs to move faster on business climate reforms, while 41% said they were uncertain.
“A majority (53%) of economists ranked Pennsylvania’s business climate as ‘average’, while 20% said our business climate is above average,” reported Ralph R. Reiland, Associate Professor of Economics at Robert Morris College in Pittsburgh who wrote and analyzed the survey for the Lincoln Institute. “Another 26% ranked the state’s business climate as below average or poor.”
“Asked to rank which of five recent reforms in Pennsylvania most improved the state’s business climate and competitiveness, 34% selected Workers’ Compensation reform,” Reiland continued. “The cut in the corporate income tax rate was noted by 28% of the respondents, while increases in public education funding were cited by 27% of the economists.”
Forty-two percent of the economists said they would recommend Pennsylvania to a friend seeking a business location, while 24% said they would not and 34% were uncertain.
In marketing the commonwealth to the national business community, 35% said they would promote the state’s quality workforce; 34% Pennsylvania’s overall high quality of life; 12% said our relatively low cost of living is a selling point; and, 11% cited growth potential.
“Clearly the business climate reforms undertaken in Pennsylvania during the past four years are beginning to have some impact,” said Lowman S. Henry, Chairman of the Lincoln Institute. “However, we don’t exist in a vacuum and other states are also working harder to keep existing business and to attract new jobs. What the economists are telling us in this survey is we’ve got to pick up the pace of reform if we want to make progress relative to other states.”
Among the other key findings in the survey of Pennsylvania-based economists:
***** Fifty-seven percent said the average of two hours and 49 minutes Pennsylvanians must work each day to pay federal, state and local taxes is “too heavy” of a tax burden.
***** Governor Ridge’s proposed elimination of the state’s personal income tax for families of four with incomes of below $25,000.00 is viewed by 52% of the economists as likely to have a positive impact on the state’s economy.
***** Fifty-three percent of the economists surveyed favored a tax-supported school choice program that allows parents the freedom to choose a public, private, or parochial school for their children.
***** A solid majority, 69%, said colleges should place a greater emphasis on developing basic math and writing skills.
***** Only 6% of the economists rated the building of sports stadiums as “very important to a region’s economy, while 47% view ballparks as having “some importance”. Another 47% say stadiums have no economic importance.
***** Seventy-two percent of the survey respondents said aside from infrastructure costs (roads, bridges, sewers, etc.) the cost of stadium construction should be paid for with private dollars.
Complete results of the Lincoln Institute’s survey of 110 Pennsylvania-based economists can be found on the Institute’s web page at www.lincolninstitute.org. The survey was conducted in March of 1998.