PHILADELPHIA – March 22 – Councilwoman Cindy Bass (8th District) today introduced two resolutions calling for investigations into how corporate tax cuts received by Pennsylvania companies can be passed on to customers in the form of lower rates.
The first resolution calls on the Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner to examine how hundreds of millions of dollars retained by insurance companies as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 can directly benefit consumers through lower insurance costs.
“In New Jersey, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield announced it will return $150 million to insurance policy holders this year, and plans to invest an additional $125 million into community health initiatives in the next five years,” said Councilwoman Bass. “Those community investments represent a significant portion of the $550 million the insurer is expected to reap from corporate tax cuts over five years.”
In Washington state, Premera Blue Cross will use $200 million of its $390 million tax cut benefit to help improve health insurance in the state in 2019. Likewise, North Carolina’s largest health insurance company, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, plans to donate $50 million to charities, non-profits and healthcare initiatives statewide.
“Pennsylvania’s health insurance companies have a responsibility to its consumers, our constituents,” Bass said. “Consumers should not be overpaying for coverage while corporations see hundreds of millions of dollars in increased earnings under this new tax law.”
Bass’ second resolution looks to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to investigate how benefits reaped by utility companies through tax cuts can be passed to customers. A model budget created at the University of Pennsylvania estimated that American utility companies will save $1 billion this year from the tax cuts.
Utilities companies in Massachusetts, Illinois, Oregon and Washington, D.C. have already announced plans to distribute their tax cut earnings to customers through decreased rates. Meanwhile, attorneys general in various states advocated on behalf of paying citizens by writing a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission seeking “prompt Commission action” to adjust public utilities’ revenue requirements to reflect the new corporate tax cuts and their impact customers.
“Corporations, not workers, are reaping most of the benefits from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Already, corporate shareholders have announced $171 billion in stock buybacks, investing in themselves rather than investing in their workforce through pay raises and enhanced job training,” Bass said.
“As President Trump seeks to deregulate Wall Street and enact policies that benefit the top 1 percent, it’s up to state and local officials to advocate that tax policies work in favor all of our constituents.”
The resolutions will be voted on by Council members at the next Council session.
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Councilwoman Cindy Bass represents the 8th Council District, which includes Germantown, Mt. Airy, Nicetown, Tioga, Chestnut Hill, portions of Logan, and West Oak Lane. She is Chair of Council’s committees on Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs and Public Health and Human Services.