Recently, preliminary findings were issued by the Pennsylvania Office of Auditor General on the badly mismanaged business closure waiver process that was conducted by the Wolf Administration. While not yet finalized, the report confirmed that the severe inequities NFIB called out have been verified. Businesses that are identical in nature received differing responses, determinations were reversed without explanation, and there were clear cases of bias favoring “big box” stores over small, independent operators selling the same products. Surprisingly, the preliminary audit revealed that the establishment of guidelines for the granting and denying of waivers did not originate in the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) which administered the effort. The “rules” determining who got to stay open and who was forced to close were sent to DCED by the Office of the Governor.
Characterizing the waiver process as a “Keystone Cops routine,” the Auditor General has indicated that his ability to conclude the audit now hinges on how quickly he receives requests for information from the Wolf Administration. Frankly, Pennsylvania’s small business community deserves better leadership then we have experienced throughout the COVID-19 crisis. As NFIB members know far too well, we’re living through what has become both a public health AND economic crisis. Leadership that respects both public health, and allows for people to continue making a living through providing goods and services is not too much ask. Here at NFIB, we’ve been pushing for responsible reopening, and we’ll continue to hold our elected officials at all levels accountable. Keeping your business interests front and center remains our number one priority.
NFIB’s Pennsylvania State Director