Human Services

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.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • 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: Nowhere to Go and More Addicts on the Streets

Mark Price is taking today and Friday off from Morning Must Reads, so you're stuck with me.

First up, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports this morning on the impact of Governor Corbett's proposed budget cuts on the lives of people in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Who is getting hit? Adults with disabilities, the homeless, people with mental-health illnesses, HIV patients needing hospice care, children aging out of foster care, and seniors, among others.

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.)

Third and State This Week: Bigfoot, Preventative Care and Health Reform Turns 2

This week at Third and State, we set the record straight about welfare spending in Pennsylvania and explained why it makes sense for insurers to cover preventative health care. We also blogged about property taxes rising as a result of state budget cuts, the second birthday of the Affordable Care Act, and more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On health care and public welfare, Sharon Ward explained why a recent report on welfare spending in Pennsylvania is a lot like Bigfoot, finding something in the Department of Public Welfare that just doesn't exist.
  • On health care, intern Jheanelle Chambers explained why it is important for health insurance to continue to cover preventative care, which increases both the quality and the length of people's lives. Chris Lilienthal had a post on the positive impact that the Affordable Care Act (which turns 2 today) is having on the lives of millions of Americans.
  • On higher education, Chris Lilienthal shared a chart from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center showing that if the Governor's 2012-13 budget proposal is enacted, Pennsylvania will spend twice as much on prisons as on colleges and universities.
  • And in the Morning Must Reads this week, Mark Price highlighted news reports on state budget cuts driving school districts to raise property taxes and cut staff, and some good news for Pittsburgh and Chester County.

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

The Return of Bigfoot: Telling the Truth about Welfare Spending in Pennsylvania

BigfootYou may remember that the Commonwealth Foundation put out a report about welfare spending a couple of weeks ago that we likened to “Bigfoot” because it found something in the Department of Public Welfare — massive fraud, millions of non-working adults — that just didn’t exist.

I had a chance to debate Matt Brouillette of the Commonwealth Foundation on WITF’s Radio Smart Talk, and I thought it might be a good time to share the facts and give you my four big ideas about how we push back on the destructive framing that the “Bigfoot” report perpetuates.

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.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • 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!

More Harm than Good

David J. Hepfinger, the CEO of Sunbury-based Weis Markets, has a great op-ed in today's Harrisburg Patriot-News explaining what a bad idea it is to impose an assets test on people who are seeking food assistance:

We can clearly see how the poor economy impacts our customers at Weis Markets. Today, they are making fewer shopping trips, buying in smaller sizes, switching from beef to poultry and, sadly, purchasing fewer diapers and more ointment despite an unchanged birth rate.

The Future of Health and Human Services in PA

This morning I was on WITF's Radio Smart Talk to discuss the state of health and human services in Pennsylvania.

I explained that it was important for the commonwealth to spend taxpayer money wisely, but that current policies were resulting in eligible Pennsylvanians, including thousands of children, losing their health care.

Rather than taking away health care from children or jeopardizing the nursing care of seniors, I said state policymakers should look at alternatives, including closing tax loopholes and ending corporate welfare.

You can listen to the show at WITF's web site or by clicking on the player below. Let us know what you think in the comments section.

Morning Must Reads: High Unemployment Strains the Safety Net and Underwater Mortgages

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports this morning on the continued strain that high unemployment is putting on the safety net in Pennsylvania.

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