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Greenville Chamber sets policy agenda for 2019

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The Greenville Chamber plans to focus on increased teacher pay, state pension reform and tax reform in 2019.

The chamber’s top state priority is increasing teacher pay to the Southeastern average, according to a news release announcing the chamber’s legislative agenda. Greenville’s starting teacher pay ranked eighth out of 10 cities surveyed.

The second priority for the chamber is reforming the state pension system to ease taxes on business and ensure benefits are available for people currently in the system.

“The state pension system is a black hole that threatens public finances and our local governments’ ability to provide education, infrastructure and public safety,” Phillip Kilgore, the chamber’s 2019 board chairman, said in the release. “The General Assembly took a few modest steps in 2018, but needs to finish the job of reforming the system in 2019 to provide local government — and business taxpayers — certainty as we continue to grow.”

The chamber’s top local agenda item for 2019 remains the expansion of the Greenlink public transit system. The business community is calling for an immediate expansion of funding for Greenlink so the system can expand service hours and better move workers to employment throughout the county, the release said.

The chamber’s priorities for 2019 also include support for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, increased state and local funding for mass transit and new lawsuit abuse reforms to protect small business.

The agenda, released in concert with the Upstate Chamber Coalition, outlines the priorities of the business community at the local, state and federal levels.

Nearly 1,500 Upstate business leaders took the chamber’s legislative survey — doubling the number from 2017, according to Carlos Phillips, president and CEO of the Greenville Chamber. The survey followed two dozen agenda-setting meetings throughout the summer and fall with business industry groups, other Upstate chambers and business organizations, and the chamber’s business advocacy committees.

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