Federal Budget and Taxes

Third and State Recap: State Budget News, Payday Lending, Pensionomics, Education Funding & More

Over the past two weeks at Third and State, we blogged about the latest on the state budget and education funding, May's revenue report, and why policymakers must prioritize investments in Pennsylvania's future over new tax cuts. We also wrote about how public pensions inject millions into local economies and why payday lending, by any name, is still a debt trap.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On state budget and taxes, Sharon Ward blogged about the state House Republicans' 2013-14 budget plan and shared a video of her appearance this week on the Pennsylvania Cable Network where she made the case for closing tax loopholes, delaying new tax cuts, and restoring funding to schools and human services in the next budget. Kate Atkins blogged about school district and county officials from across the state who came to Harrisburg this week with a message for state lawmakers: prioritize investments in our schools, county health services, and infrastructure over new tax cuts. And Michael Wood wrote that while General Fund revenues are ahead of estimates in May, this year’s revenue surplus is unlikely to reach the $232 million forecasted back in February.
  • On public pensions, Stephen Herzenberg blogged about a Keystone Research Center report showing that pension benefits earned by retired teachers, first responders and public health workers inject millions of dollars into regional and local economies across Pennsylvania.
  • On payday lending, Mark Price wrote about Senate legislation that would legalize predatory payday loans with annual interest rates above 300%. Payday loans are described in the bill as "micro loans," but as Mark writes, payday lending, by any name, takes advantage of people in financial distress.
  • Finally, on education, we posted a video from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's May 28 webinar laying out the facts on state cuts to education in recent years.

IN OTHER NEWS:

MARK YOUR CALENDAR:

  • Time is running out. Join the Keystone Research Center and Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center on Thursday, June 13 for our Annual Awards Dinner at the Hilton Harrisburg. Learn more and purchase tickets.
  • Join the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center on Tuesday, June 18 from 4 to 5 p.m. for a webinar highlighting the latest on the 2013-14 state budget. Learn more and register to participate.

Third and State This Week: Costly Pensions Plan, a Tax Cut that Should Be Delayed, Pittsburgh’s Economy & More

This week at Third and State, we blogged about the problems with the Governor’s pension plan, how critical the expansion of Medicaid health coverage is for low-income working families in Pennsylvania, why the state should delay a planned corporate tax cut, and a new report on how Pittsburgh’s economy is doing better than other neighboring rust-belt cities.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On pensions, Stephen Herzenberg shared his Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed explaining that the Governor’s pension proposal will increase the state's pension debt and cost taxpayers more.
  • On health care, Jamar Thrasher blogged that if Pennsylvania rejects federal dollars to expand Medicaid, many of the state’s low-income working families will have nowhere to turn for health coverage.
  • With state budget action likely to pick up after Memorial Day, Chris Lilienthal blogged that policymakers should delay the planned phaseout of a corporate tax in order to preserve critical investments that make Pennsylvania a good place to live and do business.
  • On the economy, Jamar Thrasher wrote about a new study finding Pittsburgh's economy has fared better than neighboring rust-belt cities Buffalo, Cleveland, and Detroit.

IN OTHER NEWS:

MARK YOUR CALENDAR:

  • Join the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center on Tuesday, May 28 from 4 to 5 p.m. for a webinar on education funding in Pennsylvania. Learn more and register to participate.
  • Join the Keystone Research Center and Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center on Thursday, June 13 for our Annual Awards Dinner at the Hilton Harrisburg. Learn more and purchase tickets.

Morning Must Read: A No to Expanding Medicaid Will Leave Many in PA Out in the Cold

Pennsylvania is not the only state undecided about whether to expand Medicaid health coverage to low-income working families. As The Washington Post reports

Twenty states and the District of Columbia have signed on to the expansion, and 14 are planning to decline. But 16 [including Pennsylvania] remain in limbo as lawmakers clash in the final days and weeks of the legislative calendar, when many must come to a decision in time for the provision to kick in next year.

We have blogged (here and here) in recent weeks about reports showing how an expansion of Medicaid will benefit Pennsylvania residents both from an economic and public health standpoint.

One aspect of the debate that has not gotten as much attention is that an expanded Medicaid is the only option for many low-income working Pennsylvanians.

Third and State This Week: A Missed Opportunity, Unpaid Internships, Expanding Medicaid and Mother's Day

This week at Third and State, we blogged about a missed opportunity in the House to close corporate tax loopholes, the troubling trend of employers taking on unpaid interns to do work once performed by paid staff, the public health benefits of expanding Medicaid coverage, more on Pennsylvania's job growth ranking, and a Mother's Day look at the number of Pennsylvania moms who benefit from key federal tax credits that may be at risk.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On state budget and taxes, Sharon Ward shared her statement on the passage of a House bill enacting hundreds of millions in new corporate tax cuts. The bill represented a missed opportunity to close tax loopholes, Sharon wrote. We also posted our live Twitter coverage of the House floor debate on that bill.
  • On higher education and the economy, Jamar Thrasher blogged about the troubling trend of employers recruiting unpaid interns to perform duties that were once performed by paid staff.
  • On health care, Chris Lilienthal wrote that expanding Medicaid in Pennsylvania will make Pennsylvanians healthier and more financially stable — and even save lives.
  • On jobs and the economy, Stephen Herzenberg delved a little deeper into Pennsylvania's job growth performance in light of recent remarks by the Governor.
  • And with Mother's Day this weekend, Sharon Ward blogged about the hundreds of thousands of working moms in Pennsylvania who rely on the Earned Income and Child Tax Credits to make ends meet. 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

MARK YOUR CALENDAR:

  • Join the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center on Tuesday, May 14 from 4 to 5 p.m. for a webinar on making the Medicaid expansion a reality in Pennsylvania. Learn more and register to participate.
  • Join the Keystone Research Center and Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center on June 13 for our Annual Awards Dinner at the Hilton Harrisburg. Learn more and purchase tickets.

670,000 Working Moms in PA Rely on Key Federal Tax Credits

With Mother's Day approaching this weekend, we are highlighting new research showing that 670,000 working moms in Pennsylvania rely on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC). Both tax credits also lifted nearly 118,000 Pennsylvania children out of poverty annually between 2009 and 2011.

More Evidence that Expanding Health Care Is Good for PA's Economy and Budget

I know, we're starting to sound like a broken record here, but two new studies once again demonstrate that Pennsylvania’s economy and state budget will get a big boost if the commonwealth accepts federal funding allocated to expand Medicaid health coverage.

Third and State This Week: A Call to Close Loopholes on Tax Day, Pensions and Latest PA Job Numbers

This week at Third and State, we marked Tax Day by blogging about where our tax dollars go and why Pennsylvania should close corporate tax loopholes. We also wrote about our analysis of the Governor's corporate tax cut plan, our latest Pension Primer, and the Pennsylvania job numbers for March. Plus, a radio podcast on the state of the American economy that featured Mark Price.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On Tax Day, Chris Lilienthal highlighted infographics and other resources showing you where your state and federal tax dollars go. Sharon Ward shared her Harrisburg Patriot-News op-ed calling on state lawmakers to close loopholes and get Pennsylvania's fiscal house in order before considering new tax cuts. Finally, Kate Atkins shared photos from a Tax Day event in Harrisburg where volunteers made a call to close loopholes.
  • On state budget and taxes, Michael Wood wrote about Governor Corbett's plan to cut corporate tax rates by 30% over a decade. Noticeably absent from the plan is any effort to close corporate tax loopholes that have drained resources from schools, universities, and county human services.
  • On pensions, Stephen Herzenberg blogged that Governor Corbett's pension plan has a serious case of pension deficit disorder — if enacted, it will increase the state's pension debt by $5 billion between now and 2019..
  • On jobs and unemployment, Chris Lilienthal passed on a news report on the March job numbers for Pennsylvania. Mark Price shared a podcast of a Minnesota Public Radio show where he and journalist Heidi Moore discussed jobs and the state of the American economy.

IN OTHER NEWS:

  • The Keystone Research Center released the fourth installment in its Pension Primer series this week. You can read all the Pension Primers and Stephen Herzenberg's testimony before the Pennsylvania State House Government Committee at KRC's Pensions Issue Page.
  • Read the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's full analysis of the Governor's proposal to enact costly new business tax cuts in the years ahead.
  • Read PBPC's statement opposing House legislation that creates tax breaks to subsidize new markets for natural gas producers at the expense of schools and other priorities.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR:

  • Join Steve Herzenberg of the Keystone Research Center on April 30 for a "Pensions 101" webinar. If you have wondered what is fact and what is fiction in the pension debate, and how to respond to it, this webinar is for you.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

  • Learn more about the federal opportunity to expand health coverage in Pennsylvania at PBPC's Medicaid Expansion Resource Page.
  • Learn more about education in Pennsylvania at PBPC's Education Facts Page with data on student enrollment, education funding, and school poverty.

On Tax Day, a Call to Close Loopholes

I joined several volunteers around lunchtime Monday outside the Harrisburg Post Office to talk to people heading to mail their tax returns about the need for real tax reform in Pennsylvania that includes closing loopholes and improving accountability.

Loopholes and special tax breaks shift the cost of public services to families and other businesses. This approach costs all of us. When companies don’t pay, the rest of us pay more in the form of higher property taxes, underfunded schools, mounting college tuition and a weakened economy.

On Monday, we gathered a number of signatures for a petition calling on state policymakers to close loopholes. Check out the slideshow with some of the highlights.

On Tax Day, Understanding Where Our Tax Dollars Go

With the deadline upon us for filing state and federal tax returns, the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has put together a resource web page to help you understand what your tax dollars support. We also highlight reports and educational materials on closing tax loopholes and improving overall tax fairness.

As the chart to the right shows, most of the federal budget supports defense, Social Security and major health programs. As federal policymakers and citizens weigh key decisions about revenues and expenditures, it is instructive to examine what the federal government does with the money it collects. The chart is from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Public investments by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania educate our children, keep our communities safe, move people to work over roads and transit systems, and care for seniors, children and people with disabilities. More than 80 cents of every state General Fund dollar is spent on education, health and human services, or public safety. See the graphic below detailing General Fund spending in 2012-13.

Third and State This Week: Expanding Health Care Brings Jobs, Governor's Flawed Tax Plan & Tax Credits that Work

The week at Third and State, we blogged about a study showing the economic benefits of expanding Medicaid health coverage in Pennsylvania, the Governor's costly corporate tax cut plan, and two federal tax credits that work for Pennsylvania families.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On state taxes, Sharon Ward blogged that Governor Corbett's plan to cut the state's corporate net income tax over 10 years, at a cost of more than $800 million when fully phased in, would come at a time when the commonwealth is having difficulty meeting its current obligations.
  • On health care, Chris Lilienthal blogged about a recent study commissioned by the Hospital and HealthSystem Association of Pennsylvania finding that the federal opportunity to expand Medicaid health coverage will inject at least $3.2 billion annually into the state’s economy and support 35,000 to 39,000 jobs over the next seven years.
  • On poverty, Chris Lilienthal shared an infographic showing how critical the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit are to working families in Pennsylvania.
IN OTHER NEWS:
  • As Tax Day approaches, the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (PBPC) has posted infographics and resources on its web site to help you understand what your tax dollars support and how we can improve overall tax fairness.
  • PBPC Director Sharon Ward published an op-ed on PennLive.com on the need for true state tax reform that closes loopholes and improves accountability, rather than another round of corporate tax cuts.
  • PBPC hosted a webinar debunking tax and budget myths promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
  • Learn more about public pension reform in Pennsylvania at the Keystone Research Center's Pensions Issue Page.
  • Learn more about the federal opportunity to expand health coverage in Pennsylvania at PBPC's Medicaid Expansion Resource Page.
  • Learn more about education in Pennsylvania at PBPC's Education Facts Page with data on student enrollment, education funding, and school poverty.
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