January 2013 Posts

Misplaced Priorities: Another Run at Privatizing Alcohol Distribution

Governor Tom Corbett announced on Wednesday his new plan for privatizing the distribution of wine and spirits in Pennsylvania.

We pointed out in a press release the likely impact of the plan if implemented: an increase in excessive alcohol consumption and its related negative impacts, including traffic fatalities — plus a loss of some of the nearly half a billion dollars in revenues that the state system currently delivers to the state budget through taxes and profits.

Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States

Working families in Pennsylvania pay a far higher share of their income in state and local taxes than the state’s wealthiest earners, according to a new study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP).

Pennsylvania’s tax system scored so poorly that it made the list of the “Terrible 10” most regressive tax states in the nation.

What a Progressive Tax Looks Like

This is what a progressive state tax system should look like. Upper-income families pay a larger share of their incomes in tax than families with lower incomes. How does Pennsylvania score on this front? Find out tomorrow when the Pennsylvana Budget and Policy Center co-releases a new study with the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) examining state and local tax rates paid by income group in Pennsylvania.

What a Progressive Tax System Looks Like

Undo the Damage Done to Students by Cutting Public Schools

Budget Secretary Charles Zogby addressed the Pennsylvania Press Club Monday, fielding questions on a variety of budget issues without giving away much detail about Governor Tom Corbett's forthcoming spending plan. (The governor delivers his budget address on February 5 to a joint session of the state House and Senate.)

Secretary Zogby did suggest that more cuts could be on the way for public schools if the state does not make changes to the pension system, which could include reducing the future retirement benefits of current teachers and state employees.

Third and State This Week: Union Membership, Tax Loopholes and a Medicaid Opportunity Too Good to Pass Up

This week at Third and State, we blogged about a new report on union membership, tax loophole bills approved by a state House committee, Republican governors opting in to the expansion of Medicaid and more.


  • On a new report on union membership, Stephen Herzenberg channeled Mark Twain to write that the reports of unions' death are greatly exaggerated.
  • On state budget and taxes, Michael Wood blogged about two bills that passed the House Finance Committee this week and would create new loopholes in Pennsylvania's tax system.
  • On health care, Sharon Ward wrote about growing bipartisan agreement that the optional expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act is too good an opportunity to pass up.
  • On the federal budget, Chris Lilienthal shared a table from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities showing how much in across-the-board federal cuts are slated to take effect in March under the fiscal cliff deal.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated

There's a good deal of crowing in conservative circles this week about the new 2012 numbers on union membership. Union membership nationally fell by about 400,000, to 14.4 million. Union membership in Pennsylvania declined 45,000, including 59,000 in the private sector.

New Tax Loophole Bills Get House Committee Approval

On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania House Finance Committee approved two bills that create new loopholes in our already Swiss-cheese tax system, further shifting responsibility for funding critical services to the middle class.

About that Federal Budget Sequester...

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a table showing how the fiscal cliff deal reduced the 2013 federal budget sequester, automatic across-the-board cuts now scheduled to take effect March 1. The cuts had originally been slated for January 2, but the fiscal cliff deal delayed them.

As the table at the Center's Off the Charts Blog shows, more than $85 billion in sequester cuts are still on tap for 2013 unless Congress acts.

Fiscal Cliff Deal Reduces Automatic Budget Cuts for 2013

Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion

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There is growing bipartisan agreement that the optional expansion of Medicaid provided by the Affordable Care Act is too good an opportunity to pass up.

Last week, the Governors of Arizona and North Dakota, both Republicans, announced their intention to opt-in to the Medicaid expansion, joining their counterparts in Nevada and New Mexico. To date, 14 states have decided to expand Medicaid in 2014, and another seven are leaning toward expansion. Pennsylvania remains among the 21 undecided states.

Third and State Recap: The Medicaid Expansion, Lost Education Jobs and Costs of Lottery Privatization

Over the past two weeks at Third and State, we blogged about lost jobs in public schools, the latest state jobs report, what's at stake in the decision to expand Pennsylvania's Medicaid program, how much lottery privatization could end up costing seniors' programs, and much more.


  • On jobs and the economy, Mark Price blogged about new data showing employment in Pennsylvania's public schools was at a decade low in the 2011-12 school year. Mark Price also put Pennsylvania's December jobs report in some perspective.
  • On health care, Michael Wood highlighted an infographic showing that if Pennsylvania opts out of the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, it will create a coverage gap for working families earning between 46% and 100% of poverty.
  • On privatization, Stephen Herzenberg blogged that the Corbett administration's plan to privatize the Pennsylvania Lottery could end up costing seniors' programs a billion dollars or more.
  • On the Marcellus Shale, Mark Price wrote about the latest numbers on direct jobs created by shale drilling, which accounts for just 0.38% of all Pennsylvania jobs.
  • On the state budget, Kate Atkins wrote about Bucks County students who served up a tasty five-star meal to area elected officials last week to underscore the value of investing in career training and technical education.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!