Posts by guest blogger

Let’s be honest about food stamp work requirements…

The following is a guest blog post from Sheila Christopher, Executive Director of Hunger-Free Pennsylvania. The post originally appeared on their blog here.

The House Health Committee recently approved a measure (H.B. 1659) that would impose mandatory work requirements for all able-bodied food stamp recipients. The legislation is now being fast-tracked for consideration before the full House.

Mandatory work requirements sound reasonable … until you know the facts.

One in seven Pennsylvanians currently use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, to help buy the food they need to survive and feed their families. SNAP helps keep food on the table for thousands of low-wage and part-time workers who can’t find steady employment, veterans, people who are homeless, and people struggling with addictions, in addition to children, seniors, and people with disabilities.

Take Action Now: Food Stamp Work Requirements Will Harm People with Criminal Records Trying to Build New Lives

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The following is a guest blog post from Sharon M. Dietrich, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia Litigation Director. The post originally appeared on their website here.

Proposals to toughen work requirements to qualify for SNAP benefits (food stamps) are all the rage.  Even in areas of high unemployment, low income people without children and who are not considered disabled would be permitted to receive SNAP for only 3 out of 36 months, unless they were working 20 hours per week.  The proposals are under consideration by Congress (for the Farm Bill), the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Pennsylvania General Assembly (HB 1659).

These work requirements would lead to loss of SNAP and to food insecurity among many low income Americans not fortunate enough to have work.  But one population would be especially hurt: people with criminal records.(link is external) One out of three(link is external) American adults has a criminal record.

Guest Blogger: We Must Have Missed the Memo

by Jin David Kim, Communications Director, PCCY

Some state representatives, siding with the research and the will of the people they represent, have boarded the quality pre-k train only to threaten to derail it in this, the first week of PA’s budget process.

Apocalypse Not: Study Finds Severance Tax Unlikely to Scare Away Drillers from Marcellus Shale

By Parth Vaishnav (left) & Nathaniel Horner (right) of Carnegie Mellon University

Parth VaishnavNathaniel HornerA common argument against enacting a severance tax on shale gas in Pennsylvania is that the additional cost will cause the industry to leave the state. As graduate students in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University, we decided to test that idea.

We found that replacing the state's current drilling impact fee with a 5% severance tax would be very unlikely to inhibit new drilling. Our study looks at what such a tax would mean on a driller's internal rate of return (IRR) and how that would influence drilling decisions. What we find is that while a severance tax would decrease a well's IRR, as does the impact fee, the decrease is rather small — making wells still quite profitable for drillers.

Low-wage Workers Take Post-Recession Hit to Paycheck

By Ellis Wazeter, Intern

Since the end of the recession, Americans working in low- and mid-wage occupations have taken a bigger hit to their paychecks than their counterparts in higher-paid jobs, according to a study by the National Employment Law Project (NELP).

Guest Post: It Wasn’t the Shale, Yinz

By Tim Stuhldreher
Originally published at Tim Stuhldreher's Blog

Paul Krugman muses on why deindustrialization left Detroit a basket case, but not Pittsburgh. Both metros were one-industry towns well into the 1970s (cars in Detroit, steel in Pittsburgh). Both took huge economic hits in the 1980s when the factories closed and the jobs went away. Yet today Detroit is a bankrupt wasteland, while Pittsburgh isn’t doing too badly. What’s the difference?

Pennsylvania Shuts Down Its Safety Net of Last Resort

By Liz Schott, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Originally published at the Off the Charts Blog

Pennsylvania ended cash assistance today for very poor residents who cannot work and don’t qualify for other assistance, joining many other states that have scaled back or eliminated their General Assistance programs even as the need has grown.

A Recovery for the 1%

By Jheanelle Chambers, Intern

Even in a Down Year, Top 1% Have More Total Income Than Bottom 50 Percent CombinedWhile many middle-class Americans are still struggling in a down economy, the 1% is doing quite well.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has an eye-popping chart (right) showing that in 2009, despite the weak economy, the top 1% of households captured $1.32 trillion in gross income while the bottom 50% earned $1.06 trillion.