February 2013 Posts

Senate to Vote on Plan to Avert Worst of Sequester Cuts

Update: The American Family Economic Protection Act failed to get the 60 votes needed in the Senate for the bill to proceed to a final vote. The vote was 51-49 in favor of advancing the bill.

Automatic federal cuts to a broad range of crucial services are scheduled to go into effect tomorrow. These cuts will have a direct, disastrous impact on Pennsylvania families and children, and leading economists have warned of the damaging impact it will have on job creation and our economy. 

The Senate has an opportunity today to take a first step toward halting these across-the-board cuts, known as sequestration. The American Family Economic Protection Act is up for a vote; if enacted, it would delay cuts until January 2014 to give Congress time to develop a balanced approach to deficit reduction.

Governor's Plan Digs a Deeper Pension Hole

The high cost of meeting current pension obligations is often cited as the main reason Pennsylvania needs a substantial overhaul of its pensions system. So it is a little puzzling that Governor Tom Corbett has put forth a plan that will actually increase pension costs for the state, school districts, and ultimately taxpayers.

That is the finding of the first two in a series of pension primers the Keystone Research Center released this week. So how exactly does this plan drive up costs?

New Jersey Becomes Latest to Embrace Medicaid Expansion. How About It, PA?

Chris Christie is the latest to join a growing bipartisan group of governors embracing the opportunity to expand Medicaid health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The New Jersey governor announced his decision during his budget address today. The Star Ledger has more:

Third and State This Week: Selling Snake Oil to the States, Medicaid Expansion Means Jobs, and the PA Budget Summit

This week at Third and State, we blogged about how ALEC is trying to sell snake oil to the states, a new report finding that an expansion of Medicaid would support tens of thousands of new Pennsylvania jobs, and the Pennsylvania Budget Summit which took place in Harrisburg this week.


  • On budget and fiscal policies, Sharon Ward blogged about new research striking a stake in the heart of claims by ALEC that its policies of lower taxes, fewer workplace protections, and diminished public investments is good for the public.
  • On health care policy and the economy, Chris Lilienthal wrote about a new report finding that the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act would support more than 41,200 new jobs across Pennsylvania's economy in 2016.
  • On state budget and tax policy, we pulled together live tweets from the Pennsylvania Budget Summit all in one place.


  • The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has posted resources from the Budget Summit online. This includes our Just the Facts on Pennsylvania Spending, Taxes, Debt and Tax Fairness.
  • PBPC has launched a new Education Facts Page, with Pennsylvania data on enrollment in public, private and charter schools in the commonwealth as well as information about education funding and school poverty. Check it out.

Expanding Medicaid Would Add 41,000 New PA Jobs

Governor Tom Corbett's decision to pass on a federal opportunity to expand health coverage under the Affordable Care Act is a missed opportunity on many levels. It is a missed opportunity for the hundreds of thousands of hardworking low-income Pennsylvanians who would have the security of knowing that they can see a doctor when they get sick. And it is a missed opportunity for the state's health care economy.

Get Live Updates from the PA Budget Summit

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center is hosting its annual Budget Summit today in Harrisburg. The event features state and federal policy experts talking about the latest on Governor Tom Corbett's 2013-14 spending plan, an update on the federal budget in Washington, and what it all means for communities and families across Pennsylvania.

ALEC Policies Sell 'Snake Oil to the States'

Three national organizations offered a scathing criticism of policies endorsed by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, in a conference call with reporters last week. Their findings strike a stake in the heart of ALEC claims that its view of the world — lower taxes, fewer workplace protections, and diminished public investments — is good for the public. 

Pennsylvania state lawmakers who look to ALEC for guidance on economic policy should stand up and take notice. 

Third and State This Week: Minimum Wage, No Go on Lottery Privatization, State Revenue Update and a Look Ahead

This week at Third and State, we blogged about structuring the minimum wage to ensure low-wage workers are sharing in the growing economic pie, why lottery privatization was bad policy (as well as being illegal), a check in on the President's State of the Union, a look at state revenue collections in January, and more.


  • On jobs and wages, Stephen Herzenberg wrote that a minimum wage that keeps pace with productivity growth would allow workers at all income levels to share in the expanding economic pie.
  • On privatization, Stephen Herzenberg blogged that the Attorney General's rejection of a contract to privatize the lottery is good news for Pennsylvania and the future of senior services funded by the lottery.
  • On state budget and taxes, Michael Wood provided an update on state revenue collections, which came in slightly below estimate in January but remain ahead of targets for the fiscal year.
  • Finally, Mark Price offered his take on President Obama's State of the Union address, notably the President's plan to increase investments in infrastructure and universal pre-kindergarten education, and his proposals to reduce inequality.


  • Check out photos from the kick off of the "Cover the Commonwealth" Campaign. More than 150 advocates came to Harrisburg to urge Governor Corbett and lawmakers to take advantage of a federal opportunity to draw down $43 billion in funds to strengthen the state's health care economy and expand coverage to hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians.
  • Pittsburgh City Paper has some interesting infographics on the Governor's budget proposal, using analysis from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.
  • Like us on Facebook: Keystone Research CenterPennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.


  • The Pennsylvania Budget Summit is less than a week away. Register today for the Summit on February 21 in Harrisburg. It offers an in-depth look at Governor Corbett's budget, the latest on the federal budget, and what it all means for families and communities across the commonwealth.

There's a New Sheriff in Town

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Pennsylvania's new Attorney General Kathleen Kane yesterday found that Governor Corbett's contract privatizing the state's lottery is illegal.

While this was a legal decision, it was also good news for Pennsylvanians concerned about the implications of privatizing the lottery, including the loss of revenues the lottery provides to programs for seniors.

Imagine...A Minimum Wage Your Daughter Could Live On

The Australian minimum wage this year is $15.96 per hour. I know this mostly because my daughter lives in Melbourne these days (not forever, I hope). When she arrived there 18 months ago, she got a job at a minimum-wage restaurant. She earned enough to cover her rent and other expenses.