- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
By Stephen Herzenberg, Third and State
One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do …
Although I’m dating myself, some of you may recognize the Harry Nilsson song made famous by Three Dog Night. We recommend that Governor Tom Corbett download it to his iPod as he contemplates whether to accept a solitary bid from Camelot Global Services to take over the operation of the Pennsylvania Lottery. Whether privatizing state services or getting a new roof for your house, having a single lonely bidder is a red flag for a fleecing — for overpaying the contractor.
In its bid, Camelot promises 20 to 30 years of lottery profits that barely increase at the rate of inflation — even with the addition of new lottery games such as Keno and online gaming. The deal could produce big-time profits for Camelot with performance no better than the public system could produce. If the company maxes out its incentive-based compensation over the initial 20-year contract, it could receive $1.15 billion in today’s dollars; more when you count annual management fees.
A good deal for Camelot, but not for the Pennsylvania seniors who benefit from lottery proceeds, as the Keystone Research Center finds in a new report. The impact on seniors is critical since the lottery generates $1 billion a year for services that benefit area senior centers, low-cost prescription drugs, transportation for seniors, and property tax and rent rebates.
By Stephen Herzenberg, Third and State
The Corbett administration has a new summary of Pennsylvania's recent job performance. Today's news that Pennsylvania's unemployment rate is as high as the national unemployment rate underscores, however, that the state's recent jobs record is not good. Let’s take a closer look.
PA vs. U.S.: The Corbett jobs summary notes that Pennsylvania's unemployment rate is below the national rate — and it was when the summary was first released. This was not a new trend: the Pennsylvania rate was a point or a point-and-a-half below the national rate for most of the four years before Governor Corbett took office. A year ago, the gap between the Pennsylvania and U.S. unemployment rate was still statistically significant. (See Table A.) But the gap between the two rates — the "Pennsylvania advantage" — has been shrinking steadily since 2010 until the Pennsylvania rate finally climbed to the U.S. level in August 2012, both equaling 8.1%.
Private-sector Job Growth: While the administration touts private-sector job growth in 2011, the numbers reflect a national trend, rather than a unique Pennsylvania story.
The U.S. economy has had 30 consecutive months of private-sector job growth. In fact, Pennsylvania's rank for the percent growth in private-sector job growth has fallen from 8th in 2010 to 36th in the 12 months ending in July 2012. One of the reasons that Pennsylvania's private-sector job-growth ranking is down is the deeper cuts in public employment in Pennsylvania compared to other states. Deep cuts to Pennsylvania public schools and colleges led to a loss of 14,000 education jobs alone in 2011.
These layoffs impact the classroom and Main Street too. Unemployed teachers, like unemployed factory workers, don’t have money to spend, which affects the broader economy.
Manufacturing Job Growth: Manufacturing jobs growth improved in 2011, but again reflects national trends. In fact, Pennsylvania's manufacturing job growth since early 2010 is slightly below half the national increase. (See The State of Working Pennsylvania 2012.)
New Hires in Marcellus Shale: Not this one again. The administration is touting natural gas industry growth by citing the number of new hires. As we've explained repeatedly, new hires are not new jobs (most new hires replace people who quit or are fired). In fact, the number of new hires is basically a meaningless number. Statewide there were 580,400 new hires during the 2nd quarter in Pennsylvania, while total non-farm employment rose between the 1st and 2nd quarter by less than 300 jobs. In other words, the only reason to cite new hires is to make the job gain seem substantially larger than it really is.
The gas industry has led to some job growth in Pennsylvania, just not on the scale claimed by the industry. Between the 4th quarter of 2008 and the 4th quarter of 2011, employment in the core Marcellus Shale industries grew by 18,000. That gain was largely wiped out by the loss of 14,000 education jobs in just one year. Even using the most generous estimates, employment in the Marcellus Shale in direct and ancillary industries in the 4th quarter of 2011 (as published by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and industry) was 238,400 – about 4.2% of total state employment.
Here's the unsolicited advice: Twenty months into Governor Corbett's first term, there is still time for the Governor to pursue policies that will improve Pennsylvania's job performance. There are multiple options that have strong bipartisan and business support. For example, investing in transportation infrastructure as recommended by the Governor's own transportation commission.
In manufacturing and workforce development, the administration is also saying some of the right things. But talk is cheap: we need actual investment in skills and innovation if our job performance is going to improve relative to other states and the nation.
By Chris Lilienthal, Third and State
Some details emerged Thursday about the state budget framework unveiled midweek by Governor Tom Corbett and legislative leaders, but questions still remain. More details may be available later today when budget spreadsheets are released.
Funding for county human services is one area that appears to be in flux, as some House Republicans continue to voice concerns about a plan to block grant and cut that funding.
- Robert Swift, Scranton Times-Tribune — State budget spending agreement launches other negotiations:
A number of GOP House lawmakers want to add more dollars for the mental health and mental disability programs in that mix, said [Rep. Mario] Scavello.
A Senate-approved bill restores half of the $168 million spending cut for the human services programs initially proposed by Mr. Corbett. House members would like to restore even more money but have to balance that with cuts elsewhere, he added.
Although the statewide association representing county commissioners recently agreed to a two-year phase-in for the block grant, Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, R-18, Bensalem, chairman of the House Human Services Committee, said he's trying to stop the block grant altogether and substitute a pilot program for several counties instead ...
The seven programs considered for a block grant include community mental health and mental disability services, the human services development fund, homeless assistance, child welfare grants, the Behavorial Health Services Initiative and Act 152 drug and alcohol treatment programs.
By Sharon Ward, Third and State
Governor Tom Corbett's May 21 newsletter offered up responses to five "myths" the administration claims are circulating about his proposed budget for next year. The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center examined these myths and the myths behind the myths to give you a clear picture about what is fact and what is fiction in Harrisburg.
Governor's Myth #1: Pennsylvania spends more money building prisons than building schools.
We’re not sure where this one came from, but we will give it a whirl.
Fact: The Corbett administration’s budget includes a moratorium on new school construction projections, and NO FUNDING for school district projects in the pipeline.
Fact: If the Governor’s proposed plan for higher education is adopted, Pennsylvania will spend twice as much on prisons as it does on colleges. In 2009-10, the state's corrections budget was $1.8 billion and college funding was $1.5 billion. If the Governor had his way, Pennsylvania would spend $1.9 billion on corrections and $980 million on colleges in 2012-13.
Fact: It costs the state much more to house prisoners than it does to educate a child. In 2011-12, Pennsylvania will house 49,000 inmates at a cost of $35,188 per inmate and spend $9.3 billion to educate 1.8 million students at a cost in state dollars of $5,305 per child.
Fact: It is better to build schools than to build prisons.
Governor's Myth #2: The reductions in higher education funding will cause universities to raise tuition.
By Mark Price, Third and State
On Tuesday Marty Moss-Coane, the host of WHYY's Radio Times, moderated a question-and-answer session with Governor Tom Corbett at an event sponsored by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. The Governor ran wild with analogies.
- Bob Fernandez, The Philadelphia Inquirer — With protesters nearby, Corbett sticks to message for Phila. Chamber:
Corbett repeated a folksy analogy to the business suit-and-tie audience, saying that state revenue amounted to an eight-inch pizza pie before the 2008 financial crisis. Now, he said, it’s a six-inch pie “but with the same mouths to feed.”
- Chris Brennan, Philadelphia Daily News — Corbett: Open to spending more, but not protesters:
Moss-Coane noted near the end of the hour-long conversation that Corbett could hear demonstrators beating drums and chanting slogans outside. What would he say to them, she asked.
“I understand that you’re upset because we’ve had to put the state on a diet, for want of a better description,” Corbett said. “I haven’t met anybody who likes to go on diets. It is not easy. It is not what we want to do.”
Yesterday, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, the Public Interest Law Center, the Homeless Advocacy Project, and others, filed suit against Tom Corbett to stop Pennsylvania's voter ID law:
HARRISBURG - Wartime welder, civil-rights marcher, world traveler, voter - Viviette Applewhite of Philadelphia's Germantown section can boast of having been all those things.
On Tuesday, she added another title: plaintiff.
Applewhite, who is 93 and uses a wheelchair, became the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed here in state court by the ACLU and the NAACP challenging Pennsylvania's new law requiring voters to produce a driver's license or other photo identification before they are allowed to vote.
The complaint (pdf) details in heartbreaking detail the stories of a number of people-- especially the elderly-- who, quite simply, will no longer be allowed to vote, come November.
9. Petitioner Viviette Applewhite, a registered voter in Pennsylvania, is a 92-yearold African-American woman born in 1919 in Philadelphia. A graduate of Germantown High School, Ms. Applewhite worked as a welder during World War II in the Sun Shipyard in Chester, Pennsylvania. She thereafter worked in hotels in Chicago and Philadelphia. Ms. Applewhite married and raised a daughter who for decades worked for various federal, Pennsylvania, and municipal government agencies. Now a widow, Ms. Applewhite has lived in Philadelphia for much of her life, including the past twenty years, and enjoys five grandchildren, nine great grandchildren, and four great-great grandchildren.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports this morning on the impact of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett's proposed budget cuts on the lives of people in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Who is getting hit? Adults with disabilities, the homeless, people with mental-health illnesses, HIV patients needing hospice care, children aging out of foster care, and seniors, among others.
Miriam Hill, The Philadelphia Inquirer — People who will be affected by Corbett's cuts:
Brittany Stevens doesn't talk a lot, but she's a bit of a social butterfly. She was a prom queen and, after a recent performance of the musical Fela!, she spontaneously hugged the dancers, nearly tackling them in excitement.
But Brittany, 21, who is disabled and suffers from seizures, incontinence, hearing loss, and other problems, spends most of her days alone in her North Philadelphia home, while her mother, Harlena Morton, goes to work as a high-school counselor.
Morton had hoped to find Brittany a job in a workshop that employs disabled adults. Now that Gov. Corbett has proposed large cuts to social services programs, Morton fears that Brittany and thousands like her will never get off waiting lists for those spots and for other services...
In Philadelphia, the cuts total about $120 million, not including reductions in medical care, city officials say; across Pennsylvania, $317 million, according to state officials.
A blog post by Mark Price, originally published at Third and State.
Pennsylvania’s 2011-12 General Fund budget made deep cuts to education and health care while leaving unspent $620 million from a revenue surplus last year and other unused funds.
We have estimated the failure to spend that revenue will by itself translate into the loss of 17,714 jobs (including private jobs lost due to the ripple effects of public job cuts) over the course of the 2011-12 fiscal year.
So it is no surprise that Pennsylvania's job growth slowed in 2011 compared to 2010 and when compared to most other states.
On Wednesday, Governor Tom Corbett resumed his business tour to pitch his 2012-13 budget, which offers another round of budget cuts for the coming fiscal year.
Scrapple TV News: Republican Wingnuts, Stu Bykofsky, Charles Chaput, and the Philly Going Out of Business SaleSubmitted by brendan on Thu, 02/09/2012 - 1:37pm.
Scrapple News: we tell you what to think, and you obey.
In this episode: Republican front-runners still crazy; Stu Bykofsky doubles down; Archibishop Charles Chaput climbs into bed with YOU; and how much would you pay for a 330 year old city?
Governor Tom Corbett unveiled a 2012-13 state budget Tuesday that abandons middle-class Pennsylvanians and our most vulnerable citizens.
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has a full analysis of the Governor's proposal. Here's the quick version.
With this budget, the Governor continues to turn his back on middle-class families who rely on good schools and affordable college tuition.
Help for the most vulnerable Pennsylvanians is reduced or eliminated. Tens of thousands of families and children have already seen health and other services terminated. This approach is not about finding efficiencies or cutting waste but rather cutting off help to people who have been hit hardest by the recession.
And while there is a call for greater accountability for every dollar in spending, businesses are let off the hook based on claims that they will create jobs in exchange for tax cuts that now total more than $1 billion.
This is not the path to a stronger economy or a better Pennsylvania.
We'll have more to say in the weeks ahead. For now, you can learn more by reading our analysis.
Governor Tom Corbett delivered his 2012-13 budget address to a joint session of the state Legislature today. We are still working on our budget analysis at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center. Check our web site later Tuesday evening.
In the meantime, check out Sharon Ward's op-ed below on the Governor's budget originally published in the Allentown Morning Call.
Last week, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signaled his support for enacting an impact fee on Marcellus Shale gas drillers. His plan would use fee revenue to pay for statewide environmental cleanup and local impacts, such as road and bridge damage, the Governor said on his new radio show. He plans to release more details as early as this week.
This is a significant development for Governor Corbett, who was initially skeptical of a drilling tax or fee. As The Philadelphia Inquirer reported last week:
He had stuck to a pledge made in last year's gubernatorial campaign to oppose any new taxes — or fees — on anyone for anything. Since taking office in January, Corbett has softened that stance, saying at first that he would consider a local impact fee on the drillers, then saying he was in talks about one with GOP legislative leaders. His Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission studied the issue and recommended an impact fee.
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center will have an update when the new fee proposal is introduced.
Two weeks ago, the Pennsylvania General Assembly completed work on a 2011-12 state budget that achieved Governor Tom Corbett’s primary objective — to meet a target spending number of $27.3 billion or lower, regardless of the impact.
The budget spends $27.249 billion, the lowest amount since the 2008-09 enacted budget, with cuts totaling more than $960 million.
Still trying to piece it all together? Well, the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has you covered. On Wednesday, we released a detailed analysis of the new budget. Check it out and get all the details.
Here are a few highlights:
State legislative leaders and Governor Tom Corbett agreed on a 2011-12 state budget deal this week, and on Tuesday, the state Senate approved it on a 30-20 party-line vote. The bill heads to the House of Representatives next.
It would spend just $27.2 billion, down $962 million, or 3.4%, from the 2010-11 budget.
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center will have a detailed analysis of the budget later in the week, but for now we will highlight funding levels for major programs. You can view budget tables detailing funding levels by major department and highlights of education funding levels.
The biggest cuts, in both dollars and percentages, are in education programs, including PreK-12 and higher education. While the budget makes some funding restorations from the Governor’s original budget proposal, the cuts are still significant:
- Basic education funding, at $5.35 billion is cut $421.5 million, or 7.3%, from the current year.
- Funding for Accountability Block Grants, at $100 million, is cut by $159 million, or 61%.
- Special education is flat-funded for the third year at just over $1 billion.
- Charter School reimbursements are fully eliminated (a loss of $224 million).
- Funding was also eliminated for Educational Assistance (a tutoring program) and school improvement grants.
- Both Head Start and PreK Counts were cut by about 3%.
The cuts in major education programs total $863 million.
Higher education fared much better under the final budget but still sustained cuts of about 18%, or $160 million. Penn State University received a cut of 19%, or $50 million, in basic support. Community colleges will see a 10% cut, or $23.6 million.
Health Care and Public Welfare
More than 4,300 Pennsylvanians delivered a message to Governor-elect Tom Corbett today outside his gubernatorial transition office in Harrisburg: Don't let adultBasic die!
That's how many people signed on to a petition delivered to the Corbett Transition Team Friday at 11:30 a.m. calling on him to preserve this critical lifeline for so many working Pennsylvanians. At the same, advocates for adultBasic delivered copies of the petition to the offices of Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia and Highmark in Pittsburgh.