Morning Must Reads: The Inequality Governor Strikes Again

One of the factors driving the increase in inequality prior to 2000 was the growing gap between the wages of colleges graduates and everyone else.

Therefore, a straightforward policy to limit the rise in inequality would open the door to college attendance for the children of low-income adults. However, as the figure to the right illustrates, gifted but low-income children are much less likely to complete college compared to similarly gifted but high-income children. In fact, these gifted, low-income children are as likely to complete college as the least academically gifted, high-income children. 

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports this morning that proposed budget cuts by the Corbett administration are likely to lead to fewer courses offered at satellite locations of the State System of Higher Education. Satellite locations are more likely to serve students from low-income families.

One portion of the University of Pittsburgh and the other state-related college campuses that will look different if state funding continues to decrease is their branch campuses, testified top administrators on Wednesday.

Those satellite locations provide a valuable public service in sparsely populated areas, often serving lower-income students who may not have other opportunities, said Pitt chancellor Mark Nordenberg and Penn State University president Rodney Erickson.

"They would be the most vulnerable units of the university if we are pushed to privatization," Mr. Nordenberg told state senators during a second budget hearing.

Afterward, when pressed on the future of Pitt's branches in Johnstown, Bradford, Titusville and Greensburg, Mr. Nordenberg declined to speculate as to whether any may need to be closed. But he did say private universities do not usually offer branch options and that many more minor changes to achieve cost savings already have been implemented.

While disabled activists were prevented from accessing the offices of the Governor in Harrisburg on Wednesday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports a "small army" of activists protested continued inaction by the Governor to prevent proposed transit cuts at the Port Authority in Pittsburgh. 

On a day when getting around was difficult even for the able-bodied, people with disabilities descended in a small army to join other Port Authority riders and supporters at a public hearing Wednesday to protest plans for record-breaking transit service cuts.

Hundreds of people in wheelchairs rolled out of the torrential rain and into the hearing at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown, some just to show support and others to testify against the 35 percent reduction planned for Sept. 2. The reduction, to close a projected $64 million budget deficit, would eliminate 46 of 102 bus routes and cause deep cuts to ACCESS service for the disabled...

Charles Lotz, project coordinator for the United Way of Allegheny County, told the story of Jeff Hladio, who has vision problems and cerebral palsy, works in the office supply store of the Pennsylvania National Guard facility in Coraopolis and recently won employee of the month. He said Mr. Hladio and an estimated 1,200 others won't be able to get to work if ACCESS service is cut...

Marte Novak, plant manager for ACHIEVA, which serves children and adults with disabilities, said the cuts could leave 26 of the 107 people she serves stranded in their homes.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports this morning on a proposal for public hearings into the use of interest rate swaps by the city and school district. 

City Councilman James F. Kenney, a Democrat, has posted a resolution "to hold public hearings investigating the use of qualified-interest-rate-management agreements by the City and School District" and to explore whether it's time to sue banks, lawyers, and financial advisers for recommending investments that made them richer and taxpayers poorer.

In his proposal, Kenney cites the multimillion-dollar payouts the city and the School District of Philadelphia have had to make as a result of interest-rate-swap contracts in connection with city bond sales from 2003 to 2008. Swaps sellers said the contracts would protect the city from rising interest rates. But when U.S. interest rates fell, deal terms obliged the city to pay banks and their investors...


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