Posts by diana polson

The General Assembly Budget Mirrors Many of the Governor’s Priorities But Does Not Go Far Enough

The House and Senate have now passed a $32.7-billion state budget — $281 million less than the governor’s proposed budget, which is expected to be passed on to the Senate next week. The General Assembly budget passed easily and proposed no new tax increases or fees.

The Trump Administration’s Newest About-Face: Seeking to Dismantle Protections for Those with Pre-Existing Conditions

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In a move in line with Trump’s typical bait-and-switch — purporting to be a defender of the American working class but then doing everything he can to shift power and wealth upwards — he and his Justice Department have decided not to defend the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) protection for those with pre-existing conditions. The pre-existing conditions provision is arguably the most popular piece of the ACA which ensures that insurance companies cannot deny, limit or overcharge anyone who has a pre-existing condition.

Pennsylvania State Government’s To-Do List: June 2018

There seems to be an overall optimism among state legislators that the Pennsylvania budget will pass on time given the positive revenue numbers in the state, a straight-forward budget proposal by the governor, and no haunting budget deficit to overcome like in years past. That said, the details of what said budget will look like have not been shared.

To help legislators stay focused on what is most important to Pennsylvanians throughout the Commonwealth, we have put together a list of four to-dos:

- Increase state funding for education at all levels.

- Pass a severance tax.

- Increase the minimum wage.

- Stop harmful work requirements attached to SNAP and Medicaid.

Bipartisan Senate Farm Bill Aims to Strengthen SNAP, Not Undermine it Like the House’s Proposed Bill

Last Friday, June 8, the Senate Agricultural Committee came out with its plan for the Senate Farm Bill. Keeping with the Farm Bill’s long tradition of bipartisan support, this version was released by the Senate Agricultural chairman Pat Roberts, a Republican from Kansas and the ranking member Debbie Stabenow who is a Democratic senator from Michigan. Unlike the House version of the bill which included harmful work requirements connected to SNAP, the Senate Farm bill would reauthorize SNAP and make steps toward improving it.

A Step Towards Pay Equity in Pennsylvania

Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order yesterday aimed at combating pay equity in Pennsylvania. The order, called “Equal Pay for Employees of the Commonwealth,” prohibits employers in state government from asking applicants for their salary history in an effort to steer employers away from reinforcing pay inequities between men and women.

Rep. Fitzpatrick Made the Right Choice On SNAP Cuts; Unfortunately Rep. Costello Did Not

Last week, the House of Representatives voted against the troubling Farm Bill that had recently passed through the Agricultural Committee. This version of the bill would have resulted in many Pennsylvanians losing access to SNAP, otherwise known as food stamps, which is often the last defense against hunger in our communities. The proposed House Farm Bill would cut SNAP benefits by nearly $19 million and take away food assistance from two million Americans who already struggle to make ends meet. It would particularly hurt families, children and the disabled by implementing strict and ineffective work programs, as well as unforgiving reporting rules, that would lead to people losing this critical benefit.

Complicated work requirements will upend SNAP as a stabilizing force for those in crisis

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Over the last couple months, we at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center have been holding community conversations to hear from individuals across the state about the challenges they are facing and to understand what they would like to see done differently in Harrisburg. One young man we spoke to in recent weeks, Colten, told us his story. Colten has been homeless off and on over the last three years since his grandma committed suicide. He has been in and out of low wage retail jobs and struggles to secure affordable housing.

A $4,000-pay raise? Nope. Since Trump’s tax cut, businesses spending 39 times as much on stock buybacks than on wages or bonuses.

“My council of economic advisors estimate that this [tax cut], along with a lower business tax rate, will likely give the typical American household around a $4000 pay raise. And that is money that will be spent.” – Donald Trump, October 17, 2017 at the Heritage Foundation’s annual President’s Club meeting.

Don’t be Fooled: The Extension of the Trump Tax Bill Primarily Benefits the Rich, Just Like the Original Law Does

Tax day is around the corner and many Pennsylvanians are busy gathering their W-2s, 1099s and other financial documents to submit their taxes for 2017. Meanwhile some Congressional leaders are making the case to extend temporary provisions to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which will expire after 2025. Republicans pushing for this legislation are spinning it as making permanent the benefits to the middle class. But, don’t be fooled.

A new report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy documents how the extension of these so-called “middle class tax cuts” will continue to primarily benefit the richest Americans and will leave the poorest 20% paying higher taxes on average in 2026 than if the bill was never enacted.

Why “Get a Job!” is not the answer to decreasing reliance on food stamps

“Just get a Job!”

I’ve heard these words yelled out of car windows when I marched alongside poor and homeless people fighting for affordable housing and living wage jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 2000s. It’s a slogan many who have waited in lines at soup kitchens or homeless shelters have heard again and again.

Get a Job! The belief that anyone who wants to work can get a job permeates our society and has crept into the thinking in both conservative and liberal circles. But this mindset has not emerged out of nowhere – it has been constructed and refined over the last 50 years by conservative scholars, policy wonks pursuing welfare reform and right-wing think tanks (for a detailed description see Lucy Williams article, “Decades of Distortion: The Right’s 30-Year Assault on Welfare”). Alice O’Connor, in her book Poverty Knowledge: Social Science, Social Policy and the Poor in Twentieth Century U.S. History (2002) traced the shift in the study of poverty from a focus on low wages and labor exploitation during the Progressive era to its framing as an individualized problem due to personal failings and the behavioral characteristics of the poor that culminated in welfare reform in the 1990s.