Friday, December 02, 2005

BPT and the Chamber: Let's Seek Quid Pro Quo

Why not ask the Chamber of Commerce - as the organization ostensibly representing Philadelphia-area businesses - to put their money where their mouth is in terms of the argument that Business Privilege Tax ("BPT") cuts translate into increased employment, business expansion, and economic opportunity. Let's ask them - in exchange for BPT reduction or elimination - to create a quantitative, measurable array of economic benefits (e.g., more jobs) for the City of Philadelphia. A continued program of tax reduction could be tied to the prior period's performance (three to five years?). If positive results were not achieved, there'd be no further tax cuts, if job creation goals were achieved, then the tax cutting program would continue. This concept would be an expansion of the more targeted job creation tax credit programs that Councilman Goode has championed. Could it work?
Thanks to A Smoke Filled Room for helping to refine this concept.


ACM said...

I like this idea a lot. However, to be honest, it might need to be in multiyear chunks, rather than annually, because most businesses won't make decisions (location, hiring, whatever) on only one year of forecastable expenses. But man, do we need agreed-upon measures!!

Anonymous said...

They'd rather put their money where their mouth is by writing campaign checks for votes, while supporting 'ethics reform' out of the other side of their mouth.

Posted on Wed, Dec. 07, 2005

Chamber fetes Council backers of business-tax cut

8 members were also given $1,000 contributions. W. Wilson Goode Jr. declined on ethical grounds.

By Michael Currie Schaffer

Inquirer Staff Writer

With yet another vote on slashing Philadelphia's business-privilege tax around the corner, City Council proponents of the cuts were treated to a fancy dinner and $1,000 campaign contributions late last month, courtesy of the regional Chamber of Commerce.

The Nov. 21 dinner, at Center City's Prime Rib restaurant, was billed as a thank-you to members who have supported the effort, which during the last two Council sessions won approval from a majority of members before being vetoed by Mayor Street.

"Through this gathering, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce wishes to acknowledge and recognize you as a member of a select group of nine Philadelphia City Councilpeople for their commitment to the business community and job creators of this City," former Gov. Mark S. Schweiker, the chamber's president, wrote invitees.

The invited members were Frank DiCicco, Jack Kelly, Jim Kenney, Michael A. Nutter, Brian J. O'Neill, Frank Rizzo, Marian Tasco, W. Wilson Goode Jr., and Council President Anna C. Verna. All nine voted for the cuts last May.

DiCicco, Kelly, Kenney, Nutter, O'Neill and Verna attended the affair. Tasco and Rizzo were out of town and received checks by mail.

Goode, however, said he did not attend as a matter of principle. "There are absolutely ethics issues with offering meals and financial help in exchange for legislative favors," he said. "I did not accept the money."

Goode said he hoped Council members could work out a compromise that would enable the body to pass a bill that stands a chance of becoming law. Several Street allies have also been working on alternative tax-cut laws. Goode called the decision to invite only past tax-cut supporters "divisive."

The gathering took place 10 days before Council approved a sweeping package of measures sponsored by Nutter that were designed to stem the influence of money in politics. The bills dealt with city contracts and an ethics board and did not cover events like the chamber dinner.

Kenney said he was glad he went to what he described as "a good way to have some face time with some pretty substantial corporate leaders."

"Any group, whether it's a labor union or a business group, has a right to lobby," he said. "It will be reported... . I think the ethics bills we passed does not mean that we're going to stop raising money."

As for Goode's comments, Kenney said: "If your father was a firefighter instead of a mayor, you have more need to get a name out, and that takes money. I'm not ashamed at any of my contributors."

O'Neill said: "I thought it was a chance to talk about strategy and kind of critique where we've come from and plan where we're going to."

Schweiker called the event "strictly social and a chance to acknowledge members of Council who have provided an important product - support and good government."

A Council committee approved the latest version of long-term business-tax cuts last month, and the bill could come before the full body as early as this Thursday. Schweiker said the chamber is about to launch a major push for the bills, which will include prime-time television commercials on four major local stations.

"The business community is eager to tell the message that residents see the connection between lower [business-privilege tax] and jobs in their neighborhoods," he said.

Contact staff writer Michael Currie Schaffer at 215-854-4565 or

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