Posts by stephen herzenberg

A New Approach to Accountability: What PA Schools Can Learn From the U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team

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Americans today are celebrating the astounding success of the U.S. women's gymnastics team at the summer olympics in Rio. The team won the gold medal last night, finishing nearly twice as far ahead of silver medalist Russia as Russia finished ahead of eighth place Brazil.

Believe it or not, the success of the U.S. women's gymnastics team contains within it a powerful suggestion for improving Pennsylvania's schools — a new approach to "accountability" that could result in gold-medal performances by more and more Pennsylvania children over time.

A Missed Recurring Revenue Opportunity on the Budget – Raising the Minimum Wage

This is the third in a series of blog posts assessing the 2016-17 budget and the budget negotiation process from PBPC and its allies.

A consensus exists that raising Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would generate at least tens of millions of dollars for the state budget and possibly as much as $225 million (more on the different estimates at the end of this blog). If the minimum wage were indexed for inflation, as legislative salaries already are, this would be recurring revenue. The annual boost to the minimum wage would continue to put more money in the pocket of working families each year, driving up their buying power, growing the economy, and increasing state tax collections.

Global...and Pennsylvania...Fight for $15 Still Growing This 4-15

Today is April 15, also known as "4-15."

In 300 cities in 40 countries today fast food workers are driving home the point that "McJobscost us all." Pennsylvania workers in multiple service industries are now very active in the Fight for $15.

For example, nearly 5,00 nursing home workers at 42 nursing facilities in Pennsylvania recently achieved contracts that lift their wages to $15 per hour over time. KRC reports released two days before "4-15" in 2015 and on November 9 made the case for this increase.

Just a couple of weeks ago, UPMC in Pittsburgh announced it will increase wages to $15 per hour as noted in this KRC statement and this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette column quoting KRC.

Airport workers in Philadelphia, fast-food workers, security guards and janitors have also been active and achieving victories in the Pennsylvania Fight for $15...with organizing efforts building in home care and child care.

Check out this graphic (also copied below) from the Center for American Progress, which explains how important the "and a union" part of the phrase "Fight for $15 and a union is." You see, $15 per hour in the near term would be a massive gain that drastically expands the number of living-wage jobs. But "and a union" — unions that once again represent at least 35% of the workforce anchored service industries that can't relocate — would make tens of millions of McJobs part of the middle class permanently.

Hats off to the Fight for $15 workers in Pennsylvania and across the country for helping to save America from itself and lighting the fire that eliminate the scourge of inequality from our job market, or political system, our communities, and our schools.

Gov. Wolf Should Veto Hidden Tax Increase That Could Hike Water Rates by Hundreds of Millions

As most readers of this blog know, Pennsylvania just concluded a 2015-16 budget process nine months late because the legislative majority was unwilling to raise enough revenue to begin funding schools more adequately and equitably.

In Memory of Ruth Mathews

Scrolling through my email yesterday morning I came across the sad news that Ruth Mathews (later McGrath) had passed away. Reading her obituary brought tears to my eyes -- good, rich tears.

More on Counting Shale Jobs and Deciphering Who Cooks the Books

As the saying goes, “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt.”

A New Year's Resolution for PA Lawmakers - Pass a Fiscally Responsible State Budget

It turns out we're not the only ones waiting for a responsible Pennsylvania state budget that actually raises the revenue the state needs to pay its debts -- and also to adequately fund education, infrastructure and human services. 

The rating agency, Standard and Poor's (S&P), is also waiting for a fiscally responsible budget.

Pension’s Hybrid Pension Plan – We Told You So

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Actuarial studies released yesterday confirmed what Keystone Research Center said a month ago about the Pennsylvania hybrid pension plan that passed the Senate and is now being considered in the Pennsylvania House. The hybrid pension plan won’t save any money. It will actually increase taxpayer costs if courts rule unconstitutional savings from cutting current members’ benefits. But the plan will cut benefits deeply.

Maybe the Left Hand of Pew Trust Needs to Talk to the Right Hand...

The Patriot-News yesterday highlighted a new report by the Pew Trust which finds that the middle class is shrinking. That’s interesting, especially given that, another part of Pew has been advocating for several years with former Enron billionaire John Arnold for policies that would further undermine the middle class. (Check on this link for one perspective on Arnold and Pew.)