PA Senate Approves Budget, But Deep Cuts Remain

The Pennsylvania Senate approved a $27.6 billion budget plan today by a vote of 39-8. The plan improves upon the budget proposed by Governor Tom Corbett, but deep cuts to education and health services remain.

On Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee, in a rare display of bipartisanship, adopted two Democratic amendments and unanimously approved the spending plan.

Morning Must Reads: The Impact of Economic Austerity, Student Loans and the Geography of Manufacturing

The U.S. economy is growing, albeit too slowly to make a substantial and badly needed dent in the unemployment rate. Growth in the U.S. economy will almost certainly mean continued growth in the Pennsylvania economy.

The most important risk to Pennsylvania's job growth in 2012 remains job losses among teachers, nurses and other public servants caused by federal and state budget cuts. 

Let the Games Begin: PA Senate Announces Details of Budget Proposal

Action on the state budget began in earnest Monday with state Senator Jake Corman, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, releasing important details on the Senate budget plan that will be advanced this week.

The proposal would increase Governor Tom Corbett's budget proposal by $500 million, with total spending rising from $27.15 billion to $27.65 billion for 2012-13. The Senate plan rejects $191 million in fund transfers and new revenue and proposes new spending cuts of $165 million. Those spending reductions were not yet detailed.

Third and State This Week: A Brighter Revenue Picture, Impact of Corporate Tax Cuts and Payday Lending

This week at Third and State, we blogged about a new revenue report from the Independent Fiscal Office offering a more upbeat view of the economy moving forward, and the likely impact of a state House-approved bill to reduce corporate taxes by nearly $1 billion by the end of the decade. We also posted Morning Must Reads on payday lending legislation and the economic cost of an asset test for Pennsylvanians in need of food assistance.


  • On the state budget, Sharon Ward blogged about the Independent Fiscal Office's new report predicting a smaller revenue shortfall for the current year and more robust revenue collections for 2012-13. Mark Price also had analysis on the new revenue report, noting that state budget cuts have hurt job growth.
  • On tax policy, Chris Lilienthal wrote about the House's approval of a plan to reduce corporate taxes by nearly $1 billion by the end of the decade without any commitment from businesses to put Pennsylvanians back to work. Sharon Ward shared her Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed on this bill and a memo she sent to editors and reporters outlining her concerns with the bill.
  • Finally, Mark Price had Morning Must Reads on legislation in the state House to legalize payday loans charging upwards of 300% in annual percentage rates, and the lost economic activity from implementing an asset test for people receiving food stamps.

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

Morning Must Reads: Tax Collection Forecast Improves, Philadelphia Got Schools? & Voter ID

In the fall, Pennsylvania's economy looked a bit shaky. Unemployment was rising and leading indexes which predict future growth were signaling weak growth.

Today, the outlook is stronger: unemployment is falling, albeit slowly, and leading indexes (PDF) point to stronger growth over the next six months. Thus, it is no surprise that the Independent Fiscal Office has boosted its forecast for state tax revenue collections.

Morning Must Reads: Bribery, Inequality Explained, $30K Preschools and Balancing Paid and Unpaid Work

The New York Times on Sunday published a lengthy article detailing allegations that Wal-Mart executives allegedly violated a federal law that makes it a crime for American corporations and their subsidiaries to bribe foreign officials.

Third and State This Week: Taking on Prevailing Wage, Loopholes vs. Budget Cuts and a Growing Menace

In a number of blog posts this week, we debunked the claims of advocates for repealing or scaling back the state's prevailing wage law. We also shared a chart comparing state tax breaks to budget cuts and posted a Friday Funny featuring the scariest movie trailer this year — on the growing menace of corporate tax loopholes.


  • On jobs and wages, Mark Price published Part 2 and Part 3 of his series fact-checking inaccurate claims about Pennsylvania's prevailing wage law. Part 1 ran last Friday. Mark also explained that to save 50% on public construction projects from repealing prevailing wage, workers would have to pay to work. Finally, Stephen Herzenberg made the case that employing low-wage, low-skill workers on small and medium-sized state-funded construction projects, with no benefit to taxpayers and negative impacts on local economies, is a dumb policy.
  • On the state budget, Chris Lilienthal shared a chart detailing funding cuts that could be restored by closing tax loopholes.
  • In the Morning Must Reads this week, Mark Price highlighted news reports on young workers in the Great Recession; a profile of a pacemaker-dependent child who was denied health care by the state; and the fallout from cutting state support for pre-k and higher education.
  • And the Friday Funny featured a video from Ed Voters that begins: "There's a growing menace and it's coming after you and your family. The horror ... the corporate tax loophole!"

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

Morning Must Reads: Cutting Support for Pre-K and Higher Ed & Trouble in Altoona

Topping the headlines this morning: state budget cuts mean fewer providers of high-quality pre-kindergarten in York County.

The YWCA York plans to close two of its early learning centers located in East Manchester and York townships for financial reasons, according to Deb Stock, CEO...

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