August 2013 Posts

The State of Working PA This Labor Day

Coming on the heels of a day when thousands of fast food workers in 50 U.S. cities walked off the job to protest low wages, the Keystone Research Center is out with a report showing there is ample reason for discontent among Pennsylvania workers.

I Have a Dream ... That President Obama Will Say "The President Wants You to Join a Union"

President Obama will speak from the Lincoln Memorial at 3 p.m. today, the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.

Third and State Recap: Invest in Education, Flawed Study on Welfare, Facts About Nutrition Assistance, and More

Over the past two weeks, we wrote about a new study on the strong link between the educational attainment of a state’s workforce and both productivity and workers’ pay. We also responded to a flawed study on work and public welfare, separated fact from fiction on nutrition assistance, and weighed in further on a study about social mobility.


  • On education and the workforce, Stephen Herzenberg blogged about a new study finding that states with higher educational attainment enjoy higher productivity growth and higher increases in pay for typical workers. "It's invest in education, stupid," Steve writes, paraphrasing James Carville's famous quote.
  • On public welfare and health care, Sharon Ward responded to a Cato Institute study, explaining how flawed the study's methodology is and how out of touch with reality its conclusions are on the economic state of households receiving public benefits.
  • On the federal budget, Chris Lilienthal shared a short video separating fact from fiction in the ongoing debate over nutrition assistance for low-income Americans.
  • On jobs and the economy, Stephen Herzenberg asked whether the Right can afford to acknowledge low upward mobility in the U.S.?
  • And on privatization, Stephen Herzenberg shared video of his weekend appearance on PA Newsmakers debating the wisdom of privatizing the state's wine and spirit stores.


  • Read more about the study on educational attainment and a strong economy in a press release from the Keystone Research Center.


  • With Labor Day fast approaching, look next week for the Keystone Research Center's State of Working PA, an annual review of how working Pennsylvanians and their families are faring in today’s economy. You will find it at Keystone's State of Working PA web page.

It's 'Invest in Education, Stupid'

"It's the economy, stupid," Clinton campaign manager James Carville famously said during the 1992 U.S. presidential election campaign.

Video: Debating Liquor Privatization

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I am a guest on PA Newsmakers this weekend along with Katrina Anderson of the Commonwealth Foundation debating the wisdom of privatizing the state's wine and spirits store system. I outline why privatization would be bad news for Pennsylvania from both a fiscal and social perspective. Check out the video. The privatization segment runs for the first 15 minutes.

Life on Welfare: Cato Gets It Very Wrong

It’s great to be poor. That’s the finding of a Cato Institute report released this week claiming to calculate the value of all public benefits received by the typical welfare household. This methodologically flawed study is another of the bows in the 47% quiver. It is particularly timely — and damaging — given the ongoing debate over federal nutrition assistance, which the U.S.

Separating Fact from Fiction on Nutrition Assistance

Check out this short video separating fact from fiction in the ongoing debate over nutrition assistance for low-income Americans.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) "offers nutritition assistance to millions of eligible low-income Americans," the narrator explains. "The program started in the '70s, and teams of doctors proved that it dramatically reduced hunger in America. Ninety-five percent of federal SNAP funding goes to food."

The video goes on to explain that 40% of households receiving SNAP benefits have at least one working person, and that it is a lifeline to those out-of-work and their families, as they look for a job. Enrollees typically receive benefits for eight to 10 months, and the average benefit equals $1.49 per meal per day. For many people, SNAP benefits do not last through the end of the month.

Can the Right Afford to Acknowledge Low Upward Mobility in the U.S.?

Michael Laracy of the Annie E. Casey Foundation emailed around an opinion piece by Fareed Zakaria on the boffo new study on upward mobility in the United States. The Zakaria piece appeared in the Amazon, I mean Bezos, I mean Washington Post.

Third and State This Week: Health Law Saves Consumers, Upward Social Mobility, & More on State Revenue Outlook

This week at Third and State, we blogged about a key provision of the Affordable Care Act that ensures health insurance companies spend most premium dollars on direct medical care, shared an op-ed on what works when it come to upward social mobility, and provided more analysis on the state's revenue outlook for 2013-14.


  • On health care, Chris Lilienthal wrote about a key reform in the Affordable Care Act that requires health insurance companies to spend 80% to 85% of premium dollars on direct medical care or issue rebates to consumers.
  • On jobs and wages, Stephen Herzenberg shared his op-ed on a new report providing the most detailed information yet on what works — and what doesn’t — when it comes to keeping the American Dream alive.
  • On state budget and taxes, Michael Wood filed two blog posts about the official state revenue estimates for 2013-14 --  the first looking at why corporate tax collections are projected to decline, and the second examining what's expected with personal income and sales tax collections.


In recent weeks, the Keystone Research Center and Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center have released the following publications:

  • The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center published an analysis of the 2013-14 General Fund official revenue estimates, a briefing paper on how Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale impact fee comes up well short of natural gas severance taxes in Texas and West Virginia, and a press release on the pending cut to federal nutrition assistance.
  • The Keystone Research Center published a briefing paper and press release about a new landmark study showing that Pennsylvania enjoys substantially more upward mobility than many other parts of the United States.


The staff and research of the Keystone Research Center and Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center were featured in the following news reports and radio interviews in recent weeks:

Pennsylvania: State of Opportunity?

I wanted to share my op-ed today on a new report offering Pennsylvania some optimism when it comes to upward social mobility but also serving as a warning for lawmakers on the policies they pursue.