October 2013 Posts

'One-Size-Fits-All' Business Tax Rankings Don't Have PA's Best Interests in Mind

We often see in the news state rankings of business climate that vary widely depending on who is doing the ranking. As Billy Hamilton writes in Monday's State Tax Notes (subscription required), these rankings often have much more to do with the low and no tax preferences of the list writers, like the Tax Foundation, than taking a real look at what's happening in the states:

Video: Don’t Let Property Tax Plan Derail PA Schools

The future of Pennsylvania schools — and the quality of education every child receives — is at stake in a property tax proposal in Harrisburg.

The plan to swap property taxes for higher state levies will drain billions from Pennsylvania classrooms within a few years. Over time, it increases funding inequities across districts and makes it harder for future graduates to compete in a 21st century job market.

There is a better way. Watch our new whiteboard video to see how we can strengthen our schools, make funding more equitable, and address property tax concerns. Then share the video with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.

Death of an Adjunct

Appearing last week on a radio program in Pittsburgh with labor historian Charles McCollester, I heard for the first time the story of Margaret Mary Vojtko, a 25-year adjunct faculty member at Duquesne University who died recently in poverty at the age of 83.

More Fun With Shale Jobs Numbers

Last week, the Marcellus Shale Coalition trumpeted a new claim on the shale drilling industry's positive impact on Pennsylvania jobs:

Raymond James analysts crunched the numbers, and between 2005 and 2012 almost 90 percent of the job growth in Pennsylvania at that time came from oil and gas jobs ... That’s the highest percentage of any state, according to analysts Pavel Molchanov and J. Marshall Adkins, who based the math off data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As meaningless statistics go, this is one of the more meaningless.

Ohio Moves Forward with Medicaid Expansion

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Ohio has decided to move forward with an expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. From The New York Times:

With Monday’s vote, Ohio became the 25th state plus the District of Columbia to expand Medicaid, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Nearly a dozen Republican governors have moved to do so, despite the efforts of Congressional Republicans to “defund” the health care law.

Webinar: Property Tax Elimination and PA School Funding

Legislative proposals to eliminate school property taxes are being debated in Harrisburg, but what does it mean for school funding in Pennsylvania? If you missed the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's Friday webinar tackling this question, you can watch it below (click here to download the PowerPoint presentation). Mark Ryan of the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) joined PBPC's Sharon Ward to outline the fiscal impact of the proposals. If you need the quick version, check out Michael Wood's blog post last week on what the IFO found when it crunched the numbers on the property tax plans.

In Case Your Missed It: Education Funding, Property Tax Elimination, Economy-Boosting Jobs, and More

In recent weeks, we blogged about what's at stake for Pennsylvania schools in the debate over property taxes in Harrisburg, the call for an education funding formula, the value of economy-boosting jobs, and details of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's fall webinar series.


  • On property taxes, Michael Wood wrote about an analysis from the Independent Fiscal Office finding that a proposal to eliminate property taxes would leave school districts with $2.6 billion less in overall funding within five years. Mike also wrote about some funding uncertainty surrounding the property tax proposal.
  • On unions and the economy, Steve Herzenberg shared a recent radio interview in which he made the case that when unions are strong, the economy is strong.
  • On education funding, Chris Lilienthal highlighted a recent symposium on school funding where experts discussed the impact of nearly a billion dollars in state funding cuts to schools two years ago and the need for an education funding formula.
  • On the economy, Chris Lilienthal shared a video from Topos Partnerships showing the value of economy-boosting jobs — jobs that pay workers enough to maintain the basic spending levels that keep the economy and our communities going.
  • Finally, we announced the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's fall webinar series lineup, including presentations on property taxes, the Affordable Care Act, Marcellus Shale jobs, and what we can do to restore needed education funding.



When Unions Are Strong, the Economy Is Strong

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I was on WESA's Essential Pittsburgh this week discussing the role of unions in building a stronger U.S. economy.

Funding Uncertainty in Property Tax Plan

As I blogged yesterday, a new analysis from the Independent Fiscal Office concludes that a proposal to eliminate property taxes in Pennsylvania would leave school districts with $2.6 billion less in overall funding within five years.

What’s At Stake for Schools in Property Tax Plan?

The latest proposal to eliminate property taxes in Pennsylvania would leave school districts with $2.6 billion less in overall funding within five years, according to an analysis from the Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office. Matthew Knittel of the IFO presented the findings during a Pennsylvania Senate Finance Committee hearing Tuesday.