Posts by marc stier

The Emperor’s New Liquor Stores

Act 39 flew through the House of Representatives and was signed by Governor Wolf too fast for us, and many others, to object. If we had a chance, we would have pointed out, as the IFO did soon after passage, that the estimates of new revenue from expanding wine and beer sales was way too high. And we would have added that much of the $106 million that the IFO expects will be generated by Act 39 is a one-time deal. Projections of additional sales of wine and beer at the new locations have to be weighed against the loss of sales at Wine and Spirit shops and beer distributors. 

Revenue Options Real and Fake: A Minimum Wage Increase and Gaming Expansion

Ten years ago was the last time Pennsylvania raised the minimum wage in advance of the federal government doing so. In those ten years, inflation has reduced the value of the minimum wage to a poverty wage. That’s why it’s time to raise it again, ultimately to $15 an hour, but immediately to $10.10.

Some things are worse than a late budget.

As the June 30th deadline looms, we have little more than rumors about what kind of Pennsylvania budget might be enacted by the General Assembly for 2016-17. But while some may find optimism in talk of getting the budget done, the rumors we are hearing about the details of the budget in the works are extremely worrisome.

Why Philly Needs the Sugary Drink Tax

As we move closer to a City Council vote on the sugary drink tax proposal, I want to offer some final thoughts about the idea and correct some misapprehensions about it:

Finally: Waste, Fraud, and Abuse!!!

After ribbing Senator Wagner and his fellow members of the taxpayer caucus for not understanding the basics of budgeting, I want to acknowledge that they did come up with a really good idea today.

It appears that the Pennsylvania State Police take two sheets of paper to print tickets. Some intrepid investigator discovered that they could get the whole thing on one sheet of paper if they printed in landscape rather than portrait mode. At 8 cents per sheet of paper for the 542,000 tickets they print, that’s a savings of $43,384.

Make Believe Budgeting in Harrisburg

I’ve been doing political advocacy for over ten years and have been a teacher and writer about politics for a lot longer. I don’t surprise easily. But what I saw today at the press conference at which Senator Scott Wagner and the “Taxpayer’s Caucus” presented their three billion dollars in proposed budget cuts, left me almost speechless.

PBPC Research Prompts Senators to Introduce Tax Fairness Legislation

Something new and unusual happened in Harrisburg today. Senators Art Haywood, Vincent Hughes and Jay Costa put forward an idea that actually could help resolve the pressing fiscal cliff we face this year, and at the same time could make our tax system more progressive.

Despite partisan differences, three goals are more or less shared by everyone in Harrisburg. While their top priority may differ, for the most part, legislators all say they want:

1. to close the $1.8 billion structural deficit;

2. to spend more on education;

#NameTheCuts

It appears that some elements in the Republican Party of Pennsylvania have one and only one goal – to not raise taxes. 

It doesn’t matter if spending in our classrooms, and especially in the classrooms in our lowest income communities, have not recovered from the Corbett cuts of 2011-12; they won’t raise taxes.

It doesn’t matter if waiting lists for mental health and intellectual disability services grow; they won’t raise taxes.   

It doesn’t matter if tuition keeps rising for our colleges and universities. 

An Explanation of Our Infographic, “Especially for Poor Districts, Drastic Corbett Education Cuts Remain”

So what difference does a budget actually make? Why should we care that we wound up with the Republican budget for this year (HB 1801), rather than the bi-partisan budget agreed to in December 2015 (SB 1073), let alone the budget Governor Wolf proposed in March 2015?

Winners and Losers

Governor Wolf decided yesterday to allow the latest Republican budget to become law. We were hoping he would veto it.