June 2013 Posts

Pa. Legislature Approves $28.375 Billion Budget

The Pennsylvania Senate voted 33-17 around 4 p.m. today to approve a $28.375 billion state budget. The House followed this evening with a party-line 111-92 vote to approve the budget, and the Governor signed it Sunday evening.

The budget adds $22.5 million in funding to the basic education subsidy line over the House proposal and $32.5 million over what Governor Corbett proposed in February. Funding for prisons is increased, and a 10% funding cut enacted last year to county human services remains.

Get a full overview here.

Related welfare, tax and school code bills may not get done until Monday or Tuesday.

Philadelphia School Funding Agreement Comes with Strings Attached

The Philadelphia School District will receive new state funding, but with strings attached that leave some key decisions in the hands of the state Secretary of Education.

The Pennsylvania Legislature is expected to take up several bills today that provide some help to the school district, as it seeks to close a $304 million budget deficit and prevent the layoff of more than 3,800 teachers and staff. The budget could be finalized when the clock runs out at midnight tonight.

Pa. Senate Appropriations Approves $28.375 Billion Budget

The Pennsylvania Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a 2013-14 state budget (amended into HB 1437) that spends $28.375 billion, roughly $645 million (or 2.3%) more than in the current fiscal year.

The bill only deals with appropriations in the budget. Other related issues, such as whether Pennsylvania opts into the expansion of Medicaid under the U.S. health reform law, or whether lawmakers will delay a planned a corporate tax cut next year, will be addressed in related bills that are still being negotiated.

Below are the highlights of the 2013-14 spending plan.

$2-$2.5 Billion in Funding for Transportation Being Negotiated with Budget

Dueling transportation funding plans from the Pennsylvania Senate and House are still being hashed out in the Capitol this weekend along with the budget.

PA Needs to Get Serious about Closing Loopholes

Check out my recent op-ed for PennLive.com on the opportunity — and obligation — the Pennsylvania Senate has to really close corporate tax loopholes with this budget.

Pennsylvania Moves One Step Closer to Expanding Medicaid

Pennsylvania has an unparalleled opportunity to expand Medicaid health coverage under the U.S. health reform law to between 600,000 and 800,000 hardworking low-income Pennsylvanians, lowering the state's uninsured rate by over 50%.

Third and State This Week: PA Budget, Closing Loopholes, Funding Schools, and More

The week is not quite over, as Harrisburg remains abuzz through the weekend with budget-related activity. Keep following Third and State for updates through the weekend and into next week.

So far this week, we blogged about the Pennsylvania state budget, a new poll on education funding, a real opportunity for the Senate to close tax loopholes, slowing job growth in the Marcellus Shale, the latest Pennsylvania jobs report, the problem with 401(k) plans, and more.


  • On state budget and taxes, Michael Wood had a Friday afternoon budget update, blogged about the Senate passage of funding packages for the state-related universities, and wrote about the opportunity before the Pennsylvania Senate to close corporate tax loopholes.
  • On education, Chris Lilienthal wrote about a new poll finding that public school funding is a top concern among Pennsylvania voters, even as lawmakers debate a budget that locks in nearly 85% of the classroom cuts enacted two years ago. He also shared a letter to the editor making the case for delaying an unaffordable business tax cut to restore critical educational opportunities for Pennsylvania students.
  • On pensions, Stephen Herzenberg highlighted several recent news and magazine articles showing that 401(k) plans are a bad deal for workers, providing much less retirement security than defined benefit pension plans.
  • On the Marcellus Shale, Mark Price blogged about new data showing that job growth in natural gas extraction has slowed as falling gas prices have led to a reduction in drilling activity in Pennsylvania
  • And on jobs and the economy, Mark Price wrote that Pennsylvania's May jobs report was a mixed bag.


  • Read the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's policy brief on why lawmakers should adopt a strong addback bill to recover some of the expense of costly business tax cuts enacted over the past 10 years.
  • Read findings from a new poll, commissioned by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and Public Citizens for Children and Youth, showing that public school funding is a top concern among Pennsylvania voters. Read a Philadelphia Inquirer report on the poll.
  • Read the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's policy brief setting the record straight on state education funding and get the latest budget news here.
  • Read the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's policy brief on the tens of thousands of veterans in the state who could benefit from expanding Medicaid, and read a Delaware County Daily Times editorial citing the analysis.
  • Read the Keystone Research Center's memo to lawmakers on how a Senate bill modeled on the Governor pension plan will cost taxpayers more than the current public pension systems, and another memo on a report from Pennsylvania's Public Employee Retirement Commission (PERC) confirming the high cost to taxpayers of closing the state's pension plans. Learn more about public pension reform here.

6-28-13: Update on Pennsylvania Budget

Updated: A little after 8 p.m., the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee approved, in a bipartisan 9-2 vote, a welfare code bill with a provision to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. A full Senate vote is likely Saturday, but more work remains to be done in the House and with Governor Corbett. Look for more updates Saturday.

Earlier this afternoon, the Pennsylvania House Appropriations Committee approved the state-related university funding bills, sending them to the full House (Penn State - SB 725; Pitt - SB 726; Temple - SB 727; Lincoln - SB 728; and University of Pennsylvania's veterinary and infectious disease programs - SB 729). All five bills passed the Senate unanimously on Thursday.

Time Is Running Out for Students Across PA

Passing on a great letter to the editor written by Haverford Township School Board member Lawrence A. Feinberg and published in several newspapers across the state. Share in on Facebook here.

New Data: Job Growth In Marcellus Shale Slows Again In Last Quarter of 2012

Posted in:

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released new data Thursday from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages for the fourth quarter of 2012 -- which means we can expect shortly a new version of Marcellus Fast Facts from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. While we wait for that new release, here is a quick preview of what the new data say.