Posts by stephen herzenberg

Don't Like to Look at Percents? Then PA's Job Rank Is Even Worse

When it comes to evaluating Pennsylvania's job growth performance, Governor Tom Corbett said last week, "I don't like to look at percents." (Watch this clip about 1 minute 15 seconds in for that quote.)

OK, let's compare what Governor Corbett does like to look at — "how many people got on payroll" (actual job growth) before he came into office and since then.

Second Prize ... Two Evenings with Steve Forbes

The Manufacturers Association of South Central Pennsylvania (MASCPA), headquartered in York, has been led for a decade by Mike Smeltzer, a Tea Party Republican ... who is also a good friend and partner on workforce development issues.

When Mike ran in a Republican Congressional primary in 2010, I offered to emulate suburban Philadelphia Republicans — the "Rendellicans" — who supported Governor Rendell by organizing the "Smelocrats." For some reason, Mike didn't take me up on this offer.

Governor's Pension Plan Has Serious Case of 'Pension Deficit Disorder'

Governor Tom Corbett's plan to radically restructure public pensions will increase Pennsylvania's pension debt by nearly $5 billion between now and 2019. How does it worsen Pennsylvania's public pension debt? By lowering state and school district contributions to pensions during that time period.

Pension Reforms in 2010 Achieved Major Long-Term Savings

Pennsylvania policymakers made significant progress reducing the cost of state pensions with a 2010 law that cut the benefits of future employees, enacted new employee “risk sharing” to protect taxpayers in future economic downturns, and maintained public employee contribution levels that are higher than in most other states.

Governor's Plan Digs a Deeper Pension Hole

The high cost of meeting current pension obligations is often cited as the main reason Pennsylvania needs a substantial overhaul of its pensions system. So it is a little puzzling that Governor Tom Corbett has put forth a plan that will actually increase pension costs for the state, school districts, and ultimately taxpayers.

That is the finding of the first two in a series of pension primers the Keystone Research Center released this week. So how exactly does this plan drive up costs?

There's a New Sheriff in Town

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Pennsylvania's new Attorney General Kathleen Kane yesterday found that Governor Corbett's contract privatizing the state's lottery is illegal.

While this was a legal decision, it was also good news for Pennsylvanians concerned about the implications of privatizing the lottery, including the loss of revenues the lottery provides to programs for seniors.

Imagine...A Minimum Wage Your Daughter Could Live On

The Australian minimum wage this year is $15.96 per hour. I know this mostly because my daughter lives in Melbourne these days (not forever, I hope). When she arrived there 18 months ago, she got a job at a minimum-wage restaurant. She earned enough to cover her rent and other expenses.

Misplaced Priorities: Another Run at Privatizing Alcohol Distribution

Governor Tom Corbett announced on Wednesday his new plan for privatizing the distribution of wine and spirits in Pennsylvania.

We pointed out in a press release the likely impact of the plan if implemented: an increase in excessive alcohol consumption and its related negative impacts, including traffic fatalities — plus a loss of some of the nearly half a billion dollars in revenues that the state system currently delivers to the state budget through taxes and profits.

The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated

There's a good deal of crowing in conservative circles this week about the new 2012 numbers on union membership. Union membership nationally fell by about 400,000, to 14.4 million. Union membership in Pennsylvania declined 45,000, including 59,000 in the private sector.

Pennsylvania Lottery Privatization Could Cut Funds for Senior Programs by a Billion Dollars or More

The Corbett administration seems bound and determined to privatize the management of Pennsylvania's lottery despite public and legislative skepticism. In the latest plot twist, the administration announced late Friday that it had already awarded the contract to Camelot Global Services PRIOR TO a Senate Finance Committee hearing held today.