Third and State This Week: Being Fair to Business, Prevailing Wage Facts and a Little Health Care Irony

This week at Third and State, we fact-checked inaccurate claims on prevailing wage and blogged about closing corporate tax loopholes, growing the state's budget pie and an irony in the Supreme Court challenge to the Affordable Care Act. Plus a recap of what leading economists had to say about the February job numbers and, of course, the Morning Must Reads.


  • On jobs and wages, Mark Price posted the first of a three-part series fact-checking inaccurate claims about Pennsylvania's prevailing wage law. The other two posts will be published on Monday and Tuesday.
  • On state budget and taxes, Sharon Ward shared her Pittsburgh Post-Gazette letter to the editor saying that to be truly fair to all businesses Pennsylvania needs to close corporate tax loopholes. Chris Lilienthal highlighted an event this week in Harrisburg that featured pie and a "close the loopholes" message for lawmakers.
  • On health care, Chris Lilienthal shared an editorial from the Harrisburg Patriot-News noting a little irony in the Supreme Court challenge to the Affordable Care Act.
  • With the national jobs report for March due out next week, intern Jheanelle Chambers recapped what D.C.’s leading economists had to say about the February job numbers.
  • And in the Morning Must Reads this week, Mark Price highlighted news reports on massive public-sector job losses after the 2010 election, articles on accounting scandals and differing views of how to rebuild the economy, and stories on pensions and crony capitalism. Finally, Chris Lilienthal highlighted news stories on the likely impact of proposed state cuts to health care and other services, including treatment for people trying to overcome addiction.

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

Citizens Deliver Pie to Lawmakers with Message to Close Loopholes

With a pie in one hand and a list of tax loopholes in the other, Pennsylvania citizens delivered a message to state lawmakers this week — we can restore cuts that have hurt seniors, children and families without raising taxes. By closing loopholes and delaying tax cuts for corporations, lawmakers can enact a better budget.

Pie Day was hosted on Monday by Better Choices for Pennsylvania, a coalition of organizations working for a responsible state budget. Volunteer pie deliverers stopped by each lawmaker’s office to drop off a pie and a handout contrasting existing tax loopholes with funding cuts that could be restored by closing the loophole. In each case, additional revenue could help fund vital services without raising taxes.

Morning Must Reads: Governing Little or Just Governing Badly?

On Tuesday, The Nation ran a story profiling the changes in economic and social policy in the states following the 2010 election. (Wonky readers may also enjoy Konczal and Covert's short briefing paper on the same subject.)

Morning Must Reads: Good news in Pittsburgh and Chester County, Not So Much In Scranton

Since it is spring, how about some good news for a change! The budget gap faced by the Pittsburgh School District is smaller than expected thanks to unexpected revenue growth and a mild winter.

Morning Must Reads: Prediction: State Budget Cuts = Rising Property Taxes = Property Taxes Revolts

A toxic cocktail of state budget choices by the Corbett administration — which include holding in reserve more than half a billion in unexpected tax revenue, corporate tax cuts and a needlessly delayed and ultimately inadequate drilling fee — have slowed job growth and driven up property taxes. It is too early to know whether layoffs in 2012 will match the thousands experienced in 2011, but the news continues to trickle in that school districts are looking to raise property taxes and cut more staff in the year ahead.   

This Week at Third and State: School Bus Contracting, Voter ID and the Misguided Food Stamps Asset Test

This week, we blogged about a new report on the higher costs of contracting out school bus transportation to private companies, the expensive voter ID bill approved this week, an op-ed from the CEO of Weis Markets on the misguided asset test being proposed for food assistance, and much more.


  • On privatization, Stephen Herzenberg blogged about a new Keystone Research Center report finding that private school bus transportation services in Pennsylvania cost more than when districts provide their own transportation, underscoring that privatization is not always the best option.
  • On voter ID, Chris Lilienthal wrote about this costly plan earlier in the week and later included a link to a news story after its final passage on Wednesday.
  • On food assistance, Chris Lilienthal highlighted an op-ed by Weis Markets CEO David J. Hepfinger explaining what a bad idea it is to impose an assets test on people who are seeking food assistance.
  • On health care, Sharon Ward shared the podcast of her appearance on WITF's Radio Smart Talk, in which she discussed the future of health and human services in Pennsylvania.
  • And in the Morning Must Reads this week, Mark Price highlighted a news report on a new study that predicts fiscal distress in Pennsylvania school districts thanks to state budget cuts, articles comparing the gas booms in North Dakota and Pennsylvania, and a piece examining whether the settlement between states and mortgage lenders over questionable document processing is accelerating foreclosure activity.

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

Let the Facts Get in the Way of a Good Story: Private School Bus Services in Pennsylvania Cost More

The standard conservative narrative is that private delivery of services and goods trumps government delivery. In Harrisburg, for example, Governor Corbett’s Council on Privatization and Innovation often presents its goal as privatization, taking for granted that this will be more efficient and cost-effective.

In fact, the record on privatization shows that in many cases privatization fails to deliver promised savings and can undercut service quality. That’s part of why Cornell Professor Mildred Warner has found that local governments often bring work back in house.

Morning Must Reads: Gas Booms in North Dakota and Pennsylvania and Art Is Good

Responding to the bizarre claims that if everybody moved to North Dakota we wouldn't have high unemployment, Paul Krugman on Wednesday compared North Dakota's energy boom to Pennsylvania's.

Morning Must Reads: Predicting School Districts In Distress, Privatization and Hello Düsseldorf!

The Harrisburg Patriot-News reports this morning on a new study that predicts fiscal distress in Pennsylvania school districts thanks to state budget cuts.

Third and State This Week: Math Teachers Getting Pink Slips, Take the Money and Run, and Revenue Update

This week, we blogged about math teachers getting pink slips, a "take the money and run" philosophy on business subsidies, state revenues in February, and much more.


  • On education, Mark Price explained why laying off math teachers, as some districts are doing to address funding shortfalls, is very bad decision that risks harming our long-term economic growth. Michael Wood highlighted a New York Times article on the impact of state cuts to public higher education across the country.
  • On economic development, Mark Price was humming the Steve Miller Band's "Take the Money and Run" when he heard about the closing of a battery company's Lehigh Valley operations, after the facility opened in 2008 with $4 million in business subsidies from the state.
  • On the state budget, Michael Wood wrote that February's General Fund revenue collections took a turn for the better in Pennsylvania.
  • And in other Morning Must Reads this week, Mark Price blogged about top incomes and adultBasic, the economic anxieties of the 1% versus the 99%, and water privatization in Harrisburg.

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

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