Higher Education

Morning Must Reads: Budget Day

The Philadelphia Inquirer this morning previews big cuts to state support for higher education in today's budget proposal from Governor Corbett. Last year's budget hit poor k-12 school districts hard. This year's cuts to higher education, as the Inquirer story illustrates, are likely to result in rising tuition, which will only make it harder for low-income students to gain access to one of the most important institutions we have for reducing inequality. 

Third and State This Week: $300 Million Lost to Driling Tax Inaction, Asset Testing and Happy 1st Birthday to Us

This week, we blogged about the $300 million in revenue lost to legislative inaction on a natural gas drilling tax, proposed asset testing for food assistance, and the top 10 blog posts of the past year in celebration of Third and State's 1st birthday. Plus: Morning Must Reads and another edition of Price of Service Cuts.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On the Marcellus Shale, Chris Lilienthal wrote that legislative inaction on a natural gas drilling tax has cost Pennsylvania $300 million in lost revenue.
  • On the state budget, Michael Wood shared the latest installment in the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's Price of Service Cuts series, with a look at funding cuts to higher education and how that is helping to make college even more unaffordable for many Pennsylvanians.
  • On poverty and public welfare, Mark Price blogged about Corbett administration-proposed asset testing for food assistance with posts here and here.
  • In other Morning Must Reads this week, Mark Price wrote about the payroll tax cut and cuts in block grants to local governments; local jobs data and the unemployment debate in Washington; and the value of job training.
  • Finally, Chris Lilienthal shared the top 10 most read blog posts of the past year in honor of Third and State's 1st birthday on February 1.

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

Price of Service Cuts: Drowning in Debt: Budget Cuts Raise Cost of College

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center is telling the stories of Pennsylvanians impacted by five years of state service cuts in a new series called the Price of Service Cuts.

In today's installment, we take a look at funding cuts to higher education and how that is helping to make college even more unaffordable for many Pennsylvanians.

Third and State This Week: State of the Union, Loopholes and Price of Service Cuts

This week, we blogged about the President's State of the Union address, new legislation to address corporate tax loopholes and a new series examining the price of cuts to state services in Pennsylvania.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On the State of the Union, Mark Price offered a preview before the President's speech and a recap of his favorite parts the next day.
  • On state budget and tax policy, Chris Lilienthal wrote that legislation proposed by Representatives Dave Reed and Eugene DePasquale would take a first step towards closing corporate tax loopholes in Pennsylvania, but more needed to be done. Chris also highlighted the first and second installments of a new series from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center featuring stories of Pennsylvanians impacted by five years of state service cuts.
  • And in other Morning Must Reads this week, Mark Price compared and contrasted executives and teachers, and highlighted a proposal to strengthen both the minimum wage and the earned income tax credit.

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

Morning Must Reads: SOTU 2012: Community Colleges, Workforce Development, Taxes & Infrastructure

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a pretty good summary of the State of the Union.

Here is the full text of the President's speech, and Wonkblog has a version of the speech with only what they define as specific policy proposals.

What follows are our favorites from the speech.

Third and State This Week: Food Stamps Assets Test, Lagging Job Growth and State Cuts

This week, Mark Price dominated the blog, writing about income inequality, challenges facing school districts and a new policy intended to limit access to food stamps for low-income families with modest savings.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On poverty and public welfare, Mark Price blogged about a Philadelphia Inquirer editorial questioning the wisdom of the state's reinstatement of an "assets test" for Pennsylvanians receiving food stamps, As the editorial states: "Instead of encouraging the working poor to save, Pennsylvania welfare officials want to punish families for having a few dollars in a bank account."
  • On jobs and the economy, Mark wrote that Pennsylvania is headed in the wrong direction, with November 2010-November 2011 job growth less than November 2009-November 2010.
  • On the state budget, Mark highlighted news reports on the local impacts of state cuts, and he passed on news reports on income inequality and challenges facing schools and higher education.

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

Morning Must Reads: While Governor and Legislature Dally, School Buildings Crumble and Tuition Rises

The Reading School District has a backlog of building repairs approaching $750 million. Is anyone in the Governor’s office or perhaps the Legislature paying attention? To see firsthand, they don't even have to go to Reading; they can just turn on CNN this weekend!

Third and State This Week: Corporate Tax Avoidance, Insurance Rate Review and Prevailing Wage

This week, we blogged about a new report on state tax avoidance by some of the largest U.S. corporations, how to really save money on public construction projects, and legislation that undermines the state’s ability to review most health insurance rate hikes.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

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

Morning Must Reads: Tax Benefits For Corporations, Health Care and Prevailing Wage

Toll Bros., the Pennsylvania-based homebuilder that benefited mightily from the housing bubble, also managed to benefit handsomely from you the taxpayer. This morning, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that company profits are down from the previous period in part because the company claimed an eye-popping $59.9 million tax benefit in the 4th quarter of last year.

You can't open the opinion pages without coming across an article from the business lobby claiming businesses need more tax breaks. The fact is these companies got huge breaks that helped boost CEO pay but haven't translated into robust job growth.

Morning Must Reads: The Failure of School Choice and the Food Industry Eats Your Tax Dollars

An op-ed in The New York Times this morning points out that "school choice" has increased educational inequality.

If you want to see the direction that education reform is taking the country, pay a visit to my leafy, majority-black neighborhood in Washington. While we have lived in the same house since our 11-year-old son was born, he’s been assigned to three different elementary schools as one after the other has been shuttered. Now it’s time for middle school, and there’s been no neighborhood option available.

Meanwhile, across Rock Creek Park in a wealthy, majority-white community, there is a sparkling new neighborhood middle school, with rugby, fencing, an international baccalaureate curriculum and all the other amenities that make people pay top dollar to live there.

Such inequities are the perverse result of a 'reform' process intended to bring choice and accountability to the school system. Instead, it has destroyed community-based education for working-class families, even as it has funneled resources toward a few better-off, exclusive, institutions.

On Sunday, another op-ed detailed how food manufacturers and food service companies are allegedly fleecing taxpayers while delivering food with little or no nutritional content. 

The money is ill spent. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has warned that sending food to be processed often means lower nutritional value and noted that 'many schools continue to exceed the standards for fat, saturated fat and sodium.' A 2008 study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that by the time many healthier commodities reach students, 'they have about the same nutritional value as junk foods.' ...

Roland Zullo, a researcher at the University of Michigan, found in 2008 that Michigan schools that hired private food-service management firms spent less on labor and food but more on fees and supplies, yielding 'no substantive economic savings.' Alarmingly, he even found that privatization was associated with lower test scores, hypothesizing that the high-fat and high-sugar foods served by the companies might be the cause. In a later study, in 2010, Dr. Zullo found that Chartwells was able to trim costs by cutting benefits for workers in Ann Arbor schools, but that the schools didn’t end up realizing any savings.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette continues its series on inequality this morning with a review of the impact of the recession on African-American households.

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