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Harrisburg Update

PA capital 117-17As the Governor prepares to unveil his budget next week, state lawmakers seek changes for small businesses and elect a Pennsylvania businessman to their ranks.

Rep. Jack Wheatley (D-Allegheny) was joined by legislators and small business owners for a press conference last Friday to kick off the second annual Minority/Women/Disadvantaged/ Businesses Lobby Day. Rep. Wheatley said he will be reintroducing a legislative package that provides greater inclusion in state contracts for the businesses. “I was pleased the House passed this legislation 189-0 in the last session” he stated. “So we are here as part of the second annual Minority/Women/Disadvantaged Businesses Lobby Day to advocate for enacting these reforms into law. We all know that small businesses are the backbone of our economy and they should play a key role in our economic recovery.” Rep. Wheatley also moderated a round table discussion where several business owners addressed ways in which Pennsylvania can become a more inclusive environment.

Pennsylvania Budget Secretary Charles Zogby spoke at the Pennsylvania Press Club Luncheon Monday as the Press Club’s featured speaker. Sec. Zogby explained the magnitude of the fiscal challenge is unprecedented and called rumors of a $4 billion budget deficit “accurate.” He said the current fiscal year’s budget is approximately $26 billion, which is an increase of $6.8 billion since he was last in state government under the Ridge administration.

The Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee unanimously voted Tuesday morning to approve the confirmation of Alan Walker as head of the Department of Community and Economic Development. Walker, a Clearfield County businessman and former head of both the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry and the Pennsylvania Coal Association, now moves one step closer to being confirmed by the full Senate. At the same meeting the committee also voted on several bills and received testimony from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, Sands Bethworks and others on the state of the Commonwealth’s problem gambling initiatives.

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