Economy

Pa. House Rejects 20% Cut to Unemployment Benefits

In a victory for working Pennsylvanians, the state House rejected legislation today that would drastically cut unemployment benefits.

House Bill 916 would have lowered average weekly benefits from $324 to $277 and cut benefits overall by more than $632 million annually. That would have amounted to a 20% cut in benefits for out-of-work Pennsylvanians.

The House defeated the bill in a preliminary vote of 79-122 before final passage. Thirty-two Republicans joined all Democrats to vote no on the bill.

House leadership could force another vote on the measure later on, but today's vote signals a bipartisan opposition to what would have been the single largest cut in unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania history.

Last week, we urged lawmakers to vote against this bill. So have many other working Pennsylvanians. Apparently, House lawmakers are listening.

Third and State This Week: Pa. Job Numbers, Drilling Tax Plans & Getting Cheeky with Tax Data

This week at Third and State, we had a podcast on Pennsylvania's April job numbers, a three-part series on dishonest claims about taxes, an overview of several natural gas drilling tax plans, and a quick visit to Ohio.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On jobs and the economy, Mark Price has a podcast explaining Pennsylvania's April job numbers, what it means for the recovery and why a bill in the state House aiming to cut unemployment benefits could set things backs.
  • On state and federal taxes, Mark also wrote a three-part series playfully titled "Getting Cheeky with Tax Data." In it Mark sheds some light on misleading claims about the impact of state and federal taxes on businesses and how many of them avoid paying taxes. Read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
  • On the Marcellus Shale, Michael Wood takes stock of several natural gas drilling tax plans now before the Legislature.
  • Finally, on income inequality, Stephen Herzenberg shares an Ohio colleague's article voicing the outrage of many people there, as new Governor John Kasich takes a state and a middle class that are down and gives them a good hard kick.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Podcast: The Takeaway from Pennsylvania's April Jobs Report

Before you head to your weekend, watch my four-minute podcast explaining the April job numbers report for Pennsylvania, what it means for the economic recovery, and why a bill in the state House aiming to cut unemployment benefits could set things backs.

Ohio's Governor Kasich Makes Clear Which Side He Is On

Our friend at the dynamic Policy Matters Ohio think tank, Amy Hanauer, has a powerful article in the most recent issue of The Nation, voicing the outrage of many in that state, as Governor John Kasich takes a state and a middle class that are down and gives them a good hard kick.

One example: The Governor recently explained his efforts to cut public-sector compensation by saying, “When I go to Bob Evans and I see a woman ... who doesn’t have any pension, and I don’t even know if she has healthcare benefits — and if she does, they’re shabby, at best — to think we’re asking public workers to do a little bit more ... it’s fairness.”

Yet what is the Governor actually doing for workers at Bob Evans? Looking to cut the state's Medicaid program that insures more than 4,700 of the chain’s employees.

Governor Kasich is also preserving a large state tax cut for the likes of Bob Evans CEO Steven Davis (with his $3.9 million annual salary). To top this off, Ohio just provided $7.7 million in incentives to keep Bob Evans headquartered in Cleveland — but did nothing to require the company to raise wages, provide even "shabby" health care, or any pension benefits.

Certainly sounds fair to me.

Third and State This Week: Big Budget Rally, Mexican Trade Deficit & Marcellus Shale Taxes

This week, we weighed in on a debate over the tax payments of drillers in Pennsylvania. We also blogged about the state's revenue surplus, a big rally at the State Capitol and the Pennsylvania jobs toll of a trade deficit with Mexico.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On the Marcellus Shale, Sharon Ward responds to a Pennsylvania Department of Revenue analysis of the tax contributions of the oil and gas industry. Michael Wood writes about comments made by Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on the issue of whether gas drillers are structuring their businesses as pass-through entities to cut their state tax bills.
  • On state budget and taxes, Chris Lilienthal shares a short video from this week's Rally for a Responsible Budget which brought more than 5,000 Pennsylvanians to the State Capitol. Michael Wood writes that better-than-expected revenue collections in April have pushed Pennsylvania's General Fund revenue surplus to over $500 million.
  • Finally, on trade issues and jobs, Stephen Herzenberg blogs about the findings of a new Economic Policy Institute report on the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico. In Pennsylvania, that deficit has cost us more than 26,000 jobs since 1994.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Mexican Trade Deficit Costs Pa. 26,000 Jobs Since 1994

Our friends at the Economic Policy Institute have a new report tracking the number of lost or displaced jobs as a result of the United State's trade deficit with Mexico.

In 1993, before the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) took effect, the U.S. had a $1.6 billion trade surplus with Mexico, which supported 29,400 U.S. jobs. Since then, imports from Mexico have grown much faster than U.S. exports, resulting in large trade deficits that have displaced 682,900 jobs nationwide since 1994. The trade deficit with Mexico currently totals $97.2 billion.

For Pennsylvania, this trade deficit has cost us more than 26,000 jobs since 1994. That puts us in eighth place among the 50 states in the raw number of jobs displaced and 20th as a share of total employment.

In Case You Missed It: Third and State Blog for Week of March 21

This week on Third and State, we blogged about Marcellus Shale trickle down economics, the Affordable Care Act's first birthday, unions and inequality, and much more!

In case you missed it:

  • On the Marcellus Shale, Mike Wood notes that trickle down economics is not helping the local communities across Pennsylvania hosting increased natural gas drilling.
  • On health care, Chris Lilienthal highlights a "consumers' hearing" in the State Capitol Rotunda on the one-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act's passage. The hearing presented the perspective of Pennsylvanians who have benefited from the law - a perspective that was omitted from a congressional hearing on the landmark law also held at Pennsylvania's State Capitol this week.
  • On federal tax issues, Chris blogs about an interview on WHYY's Fresh Air that explained some of the accounting gimmicks that large corporations use to shelter income overseas and avoid as much as $90 billion a year in U.S. taxes.
  • On wages and income inequality, Mark Price shares research documenting that in economies where more people are covered by unions, there is less inequality.
  • Finally, Mark has this week's Friday Funny: The Daily Show's Jon Stewart takes on new governors, mean stepdads and confusion within the administration of Maine's new governor about what exactly a mural is.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

In Case You Missed It: Third and State Blog for Week of March 14

This week on Third and State, we blogged about the state budget, privatization, fruit salad (really?), and much more!

In case you missed it:

  • On the state budget, Sharon Ward shared resources from the Pennsylvania Budget Summit this week and wrote about priorities in the budget. Chris Lilienthal, meanwhile, highlighted a United Way of Pennsylvania survey documenting just how much budget cuts and the recession have taken a toll on vulnerable Pennsylvanians and the organizations that help them.
  • On privatization, Michael Wood took a closer look at the real costs of privatization, with highlights from a Budget Summit session on the topic.
  • In debunking claims about public- versus private-sector wages in Governor Corbett's budget speech, Mark Price suggested that the Governor's speech writers are fond of fruit salad — or at least apple-to-pears comparisons.
  • Finally, Mark has this week's "Dark Humor" Friday Funny: an article from The Onion explaining why March Madness has office employees in Columbus, Ohio thinking about how many of their co-workers were laid off in the wake of the recession.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

March Madness After the Recession

The Onion informs us this week that March Madness just isn’t the same at downsized workplaces across the country. Or at least, it isn’t taking as much printer time.

The incomparable “fake news” site offers up this rather dark (and worrisomely real) take on basketball office pools post-recession:

Yes, Years of Budget Cuts Have Taken a Toll on Pennsylvanians

Over the past week, much has been said and written about Governor Corbett’s proposed state budget cuts. Naturally, the debate has focused on the future, but we should also take stock of what has happened over the past couple years.

The United Way of Pennsylvania is helping with that. In a new survey of more than 1,000 nonprofit organizations, it found that the deep recession created a greater need for services for out-of-work Pennsylvanians and their families, while diminishing the resources that service providers have to help them.

Syndicate content