State Budget and Taxes

The Obamacare repeal is a state budget time bomb

This piece originally ran in Pennlive on January 26, 2017.

You think Pennsylvania has budget problems now? Wait until the Affordable Care Act is gone. 

That's probably a parochial, Harrisburg-centric way of looking at the consequences of repealing Obamacare.

The ACA has benefited Pennsylvanians in so many ways that its eventual repeal will be terribly painful.

We recently released a report that shows that 1.1 million Pennsylvanians will lose insurance and additional 3,250 deaths will occur each year as a result.

How did the Pennsylvania Labor Market Perform in 2016

Last Friday, The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry released preliminary estimates of December payrolls which show Pennsylvania created 32,000 jobs in the last 12 months. Payroll growth was especially weak in the 2nd half of 2016, which is likely one reason state revenue collections through December are $300 million below projections. Despite this weakness, payrolls still grew more in 2016 than they did in 2012 and 2013 when deep budget cuts weighed on job growth in Pennsylvania.

The State and Local Government Workforce in Pennsylvania is the 2nd Smallest in the Country

As we begin to debate the 2017-18 state budget, the anti-government spin merchants will (yet again) paint a picture of a menacing, out-of-control public sector in Pennsylvania eating up taxpayers like a great Kraken.

But facts do matter. And the picture they will paint is the opposite of the true picture, shown above. 

OP-ED: Combine spending restraint with new revenue

This piece originally appeared in the Erie Times-News, December 28, 2016.

Pennsylvania has been struggling with persistent budget deficits since the start of the Great Recession in 2008. And we at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center have been recommending a "balanced approach" to resolving the deficit from the beginning, one that combines restraint in spending with new revenues.

But since 2010, under Govs. Tom Corbett and Tom Wolf, the General Assembly has adopted an unbalanced approach. Spending has gone down but revenues have gone down faster. From 1994 to 2011, under both Democratic and Republican governors, the state spent 4.7 percent of the state's gross domestic product. During the Corbett years that fell to 4.3 percent as spending on education and human services were sharply cut. And while, thanks to Wolf, the state has been able to restore some of those cuts, spending in the last two years remains at the same level as in the Corbett years.

OP-ED: Time to fix our upside-down tax system

This piece originally appeared in the York Dispatch, December 23, 2016.

Pennsylvania has been struggling with persistent budget deficits since the start of the Great Recession in 2008. And we at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center have been recommending a “balanced approach” to resolving the deficit from the beginning, one that combines restraint in spending with new revenues.

But since 2010, under Gov. Tom Corbett and Gov. Tom Wolf, the General Assembly has adopted an unbalanced approach. Spending has gone down but revenues have gone down faster. From 1994 to 2011, under both Democratic and Republican governors, the state spent 4.7 percent of the state’s GDP. During the Corbett years, that fell to 4.3 percent as spending on education and human services were sharply cut. And while, thanks to Wolf, the state has been able to restore some of those cuts, spending in the last two years remains at the same level as in the Corbett years.

OP-ED: The rich can take the hit - to fix the budget, they should pay their fair share

This piece originally appeared on Pennlive, December 23, 2016.

You remember how Lucille Ball would work her way into some kind of predicament and then look around and wonder how she got there? That’s how our state legislators seem to look at the budget deficit we are stuck with right now. They are looking around wondering how the current Pennsylvania budget deficit, which approaches $3 billion for this year and next year together, happened. 

But it didn’t just happen. It was the product of a series of long-term and short-term decisions made by legislators, sometimes with the help of our governors.

OP-ED: Is this the year Pa. resolves its perennial budget crisis?

This piece originally appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, December 28, 2016.

Many of us who write about budget politics have a keyboard shortcut to enter "Pennsylvanian Budget Crisis" into a document. Year after year, we write in December about the upcoming crisis and again in July (or sometimes far later) about how the crisis has been temporarily averted.

It is crisis time again. But perhaps this is the year we can change the script. There are new ways to do something that has eluded us in the past - solve the crisis on a long-term basis without imposing harsher new taxes on working people and the middle class.

Two Approaches to the State Budget

It’s becoming more and more rare to see serious attempts on the part of newspapers (and their virtual counterparts) to compare policy proposals meant to deal with a serious public issue. That’s one reason I was so happy to see Tim Stuhldreher’s excellent piece, “Pennsylvania think tanks battle over remedies for $1.7 billion state budget deficit” in LancasterOnline.

Broad and Narrow Taxes

Last week, just as we were putting out our paper on how to raise revenues without raising taxes on working people and the middle class, Governor Wolf announced that he would not call for raising broad-based taxes, particularly the personal income tax and sales tax, in the budget proposal he puts forward in February.

The Budget Our Democracy Deserves

Many of the ideas in this post are components of PBPC's recently-released "Fair Share Tax Proposal for Pennsylvania."

The recent political talk about Pennsylvania is focused on the latest in a series of fiscal crises. But lurking in the background is a larger crisis—a crisis of democracy in Pennsylvania. 

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