Income Inequality

Toshi Seeger and Respect for the Working Man and Woman

Toshi Seeger's obituary last week in The New York Times brought a smile to my face.

Toshi provided her husband, the folk singer Pete Seeger, with the organizational skills without which he would have not been so influential or commercially successful.

Toshi also kept him grounded. “I hate it when people romanticize him,” she said. “He’s like anybody good at his craft, like a good bulldozer operator.”

That simple sentiment works in both directions. It helped make sure Pete Seeger would not become too big for his britches. It also communicates deep respect for the bulldozer operator — and for hardworking people more generally.

Third and State This Week: Corporate Tax Cuts Without Closing Loopholes, Challenges Face Poor College Students

This week at Third and State, we blogged about how a corporate tax cut bill in the state House will come at the expense of schools and health care in Pennsylvania, the challenges facing low-income students attending college, and an honor bestowed on one of our own for his workforce development work.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On state budget and tax policy, Sharon Ward shared how state House lawmakers voted on an amendment that would have taken steps to close the Delaware loophole. She also shared a podcast from a media briefing on a House bill enacting hundreds of millions in new corporate tax cuts over the course of a decade. And Chris Lilienthal had more on the tax cuts, which will come at the expense of investments in schools, infrastructure and local services.
  • On higher education, Jamar Thrasher wrote that too many low-income students who pursue college are sidetracked by economic and other challenges — in some cases, leaving them with big debts but no degree.
  • On workforce development, Steve Herzenberg blogged about receiving the Workforce Professional of the Year award from the Manufacturers Association of South Central Pennsylvania and what he took away from hearing awards dinner keynote speaker Steve Forbes.

IN OTHER NEWS:

  • The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (PBPC) released an analysis of House Bill 440, legislation that advances the Governor's corporate tax cut plan at the expense of investments that really matter in our schools and communities.
  • The Keystone Research Center (KRC) released a summary of testimony on the negative social impacts of retail liquor privatization delivered at a roundtable discussion this week hosted by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

MARK YOUR CALENDAR:

  • Join Steve Herzenberg and Senate staffer John Raymond on Tuesday, April 30 for a "Pensions 101" webinar. If you have wondered what is fact and what is fiction in the pension debate, and how to respond to it, this webinar is for you.

Why Some Poor Students Aren't Graduating College

Despite being heralded as a great equalizer, education can widen the socioeconomic gap between affluent and poor college students. Previously, I blogged about the trend of top-achieving low-income high school students not applying to top American colleges and universities. But what happens to students from poor neighborhoods who do go onto college?

Nation's Top Poor Students Are Not in Nation's Top Schools

There are significant disparities between high-achieving students from low-income families and high-achieving students from high-income families, according to a report from the National Bureau of Economic Statistics. Top high school students from poor areas are less likely to apply to America's top colleges and universities, even though they have the academic background to excel at a top tier institution. 

Third and State This Week: Talking State Budget, February Jobs, Pension Primers, and Income Inequality

This week at Third and State, we shared a podcast on the Governor's state budget proposal and the latest "pension primer" from the Keystone Research Center. We also blogged about the February jobs report, income inequality, a court ruling with implications for state health care funding, and more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On state budget and taxes, Michael Wood wrote about General Fund revenue collections missing estimate in February. Sharon Ward shared a podcast from her sit down with Triad Strategies where she discussed the governor's state budget proposal and the opportunity to expand Medicaid in Pennsylvania.
  • On jobs and the economy, Chris Lilienthal rounded up the insights of leading national economists on the U.S. jobs report for February. Nonfarm payrolls in February increased by 236,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate fell to 7.7%.
  • On pensions, Stephen Herzenberg shared the Keystone Research Center's latest "pension primer," which focused on how a 2010 law significantly reduced state pension costs going forward.
  • Mark Price shared his op-ed on how we can break the back of rising income inequality in the U.S., published this week in The Guardian.
  • On health care, Chris Lilienthal blogged about a court ruling finding that the diversion of tobacco settlement funds away from health care violated the state constitution.

IN OTHER NEWS:

  • Check out the first three installments in the Keystone Research Center's new series of state pension primers intended to help demystify the often complex details at the heart of the pension debate.
  • Read the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's latest State Revenue Tracker.
  • Check out PBPC's Medicaid Expansion Resource Page, with more information on the federal opportunity to expand state coverage and how you can take action.
  • And view PBPC's Education Facts Page with data on student enrollment, education funding, and school poverty.

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

Wealth Inequality Will Keep Growing Unless Workers Demand Better

I have an op-ed on The Guardian's web site today examining the problem that we all face in today's economy: income inequality. Give it a read.

Third and State This Week: Minimum Wage, No Go on Lottery Privatization, State Revenue Update and a Look Ahead

This week at Third and State, we blogged about structuring the minimum wage to ensure low-wage workers are sharing in the growing economic pie, why lottery privatization was bad policy (as well as being illegal), a check in on the President's State of the Union, a look at state revenue collections in January, and more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On jobs and wages, Stephen Herzenberg wrote that a minimum wage that keeps pace with productivity growth would allow workers at all income levels to share in the expanding economic pie.
  • On privatization, Stephen Herzenberg blogged that the Attorney General's rejection of a contract to privatize the lottery is good news for Pennsylvania and the future of senior services funded by the lottery.
  • On state budget and taxes, Michael Wood provided an update on state revenue collections, which came in slightly below estimate in January but remain ahead of targets for the fiscal year.
  • Finally, Mark Price offered his take on President Obama's State of the Union address, notably the President's plan to increase investments in infrastructure and universal pre-kindergarten education, and his proposals to reduce inequality.

ON FACEBOOK:

  • Check out photos from the kick off of the "Cover the Commonwealth" Campaign. More than 150 advocates came to Harrisburg to urge Governor Corbett and lawmakers to take advantage of a federal opportunity to draw down $43 billion in funds to strengthen the state's health care economy and expand coverage to hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians.
  • Pittsburgh City Paper has some interesting infographics on the Governor's budget proposal, using analysis from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.
  • Like us on Facebook: Keystone Research CenterPennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.

A LOOK AHEAD:

  • The Pennsylvania Budget Summit is less than a week away. Register today for the Summit on February 21 in Harrisburg. It offers an in-depth look at Governor Corbett's budget, the latest on the federal budget, and what it all means for families and communities across the commonwealth.

With the President Promising to Reduce Inequality, the Devil Will Be in the Details

We were hoping to hear President Obama in his State of the Union address underline his commitment to taking on our greatest short- and long-term challenges: persistent high unemployment and rapidly growing inequality.

The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated

There's a good deal of crowing in conservative circles this week about the new 2012 numbers on union membership. Union membership nationally fell by about 400,000, to 14.4 million. Union membership in Pennsylvania declined 45,000, including 59,000 in the private sector.

Third and State This Week: Few in PA Get Top Tax Cuts, Single Bid for PA Lottery, Minimum Wage Boost & Latest on PA Jobs

Note: Third and State is taking a well-deserved break from December 23, 2012 through the end of the year. We will be back in action January 2, 2013. See you then.

This week at Third and State, we blogged about new analyses finding that few Pennsylvanians would benefit from extending tax cuts for high-income earners and that questions remain about the plan to privatize the Pennsylvania Lottery. Plus, a look at the 10 states that will give minimum wage workers a raise in the New Year and the latest Pennsylvania jobs report.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On federal taxes, Sharon Ward shared a new analysis from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center finding that President Obama’s plan to end federal tax cuts for high-income earners would have very little impact on taxpayers in most Pennsylvania counties.
  • On privatization, Stephen Herzenberg observed that "one is the loneliest number" especially when it comes to the number of bids received by the commonwealth to privatize the operations of the Pennsylvania Lottery. Steve's post highlights the findings of a recent Keystone Research Center policy brief on the lottery plan.
  • On jobs and the economy, Mark Price wrote that the decline in Pennsylvania's unemployment rate in November is a welcome change, but that the jobless rate remains unchanged from a year ago at 7.8%.
  • On wages, Jamar Thrasher blogged about 10 states (none of which are called Pennsylvania) that will increase their minimum wage rates in the New Year.
  • Finally, Chris Lilienthal shared charts from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities here and here providing some perspective in the debate over extending the Bush tax cuts.

IN OTHER NEWS:

  • The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center issued a statement saying that a new U.S. Chamber of Commerce/IHS report on Pennsylvania's energy future makes inflated claims about gas drilling's impact on job growth and tax revenue, while ignoring the costs that drilling imposes on citizens, the environment, and communities.

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