Posts by jamar thrasher

Morning Must Reads: New Budget Guidelines Envision Even More Cuts Next Year and a New Voter ID Debuts

Less than two months into the new fiscal year, the Corbett administration is out with internal budgetary guidelines for the 2013-14 fiscal year — and, you guessed it, more cuts are on the menu.

The administration cites declining federal funds and increased mandatory state expenses, including higher costs for health care and prisons. The new guidelines specifically tell state departments and agencies that if they lose federal funding, they should not request additional state funding to offset the loss.

Sharon Ward of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center asks in a story by the PA Independent whether that blanket approach is wise.

Private Schools Able to Pick and Choose Students Getting Opportunity Scholarships

Advocates of Pennsylvania's new Opportunity Scholarship Program often say the goal is to give parents more choice in where their children go to school. An article this week in the Reading Eagle suggests it may be the other way around.

The Opportunity Scholarship Program was enacted along with the 2012-13 state budget. Modeled on the state's Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program, it provides tax credits to businesses that make donations to organizations providing scholarships to students in low-achieving districts. The program is funded at $50 million in 2012-13.

Insufficient Oversight of Charter Schools in Pennsylvania

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In preparation for the back-to-school craze that will soon hit all American school children, let's have some fun by talking about schools — specifically, public schools and charter schools! 

Ryan Budget Would Cost Pennsylvania More Than $1 Billion in Federal Funds

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates Pennsylvania would lose more than $1 billion in federal funding for education, law enforcement, clean water, and other state and local government projects under the federal budget proposed by Congressman Paul Ryan. The plan also includes cuts to Medicaid and highway projects, costing Pennsylvania jobs.

Midday Must Reads: College Grads Compete with Outsourcing, Face Debt

Recent college graduates seeking jobs are finding more competition from across the globe. American companies are cutting costs and raising revenues by employing international workers, Nancy Folbre, a University of Massachusetts economics professor, explains at the New York Times' Economix Blog.

Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Payday Loans

A few months ago, I ran into a neighbor from my old neighborhood in Pittsburgh, East Liberty, a largely black, low-income neighborhood. She was telling me about taking out a payday loan to help cover some of her bills.

According to a new report from the Pew Center on the States, many of the people who turn to payday loans are a lot like my neighbor — just trying to make rent, buy food or keep the lights on. 

Midday Must Reads: Are We Getting What We Bargained for with the Gas Industry?

Stealthily included in the flurry of bills passed as part of the Pennsylvania budget is a provision that puts a moratorium of up to six years on gas drilling in parts of southeastern Pennsylvania. Columnist Walter Brasch, writing in the Hazelton Standard Speaker, had a few questions for the lawmakers who approved that concept.

Morning Must Reads: Midstate Employment and More Post-Budget Analysis

Jobseekers in Central Pennsylvania might be able to smile, if only for a short while. A new report shows slight uptick in the employment rate in the midstate, with four counties in the area showing increased employment rates.

Morning Must Reads: With Help from State, Harrisburg May Save Kindergarten

In May, the Harrisburg School District contemplated what some might have thought unthinkable — eliminating kindergarten to help plug a budget gap. After deep state cuts to education last year and little hope for more funding in the state's next budget, the school board thought it had little choice as it tried to bridge a $6.6 million deficit.