Changing the Subject Doesn’t Make Payday Lending a Better Idea

In legislative hearings last month, proponents of a bill to legalize high-interest payday loans tried to change the subject and questioned the motives of some of their constituents. But these attempts don’t alter the fact that allowing payday lending is a bad idea. 

Morning Must Reads: Alcohol and Lottery Privatization, HEMAP Almost Saved!

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports this morning that the latest push to privatize Pennsylvania's liquor stores stalled earlier this week but is now scheduled to begin again next Monday.

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.


  • 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!

Lots to Celebrate

With 17 million children with pre-existing conditions no longer being denied coverage, 3.6 million seniors saving on their prescription drugs, and 2 million small business employees securing coverage thanks to tax credits, there are plenty of reasons to say, “Happy Birthday, Affordable Care Act!”

Morning Must Reads:The Pain Caucus in Europe and Pennsylvania

Paul Krugman leads off this morning with a review of the havoc created in Europe and here at home by what he calls the Pain Caucus.

Third and State This Week: Human Services Block Grant, Mortgage Help and Rising Student Loan Debt

This week, we blogged about a proposed state block grant and funding cut for county human services, the end of a mortgage assistance program in Pennsylvania, high student loan debt and more.


  • On the state budget, Chris Lilienthal shared a table from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center explaining the Governor's proposal to combine funding for a variety of county-level human services into a single block grant and cut it by 20%.
  • On housing, Mark Price wrote about how the state's decision to end the Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP) could harm Pennsylvania's economic recovery.
  • And in the Morning Must Reads this week, Mark Price blogged about news stories on the student loan "debt bomb," the rise in homelessness in shale country, extended unemployment benefits and prevailing wage, and why delaying school construction is penny wise but pound foolish.

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

Third and State This Week: The Governor's Budget, Marcellus Shale and Unemployment

This week, we blogged about the Governor's new budget proposal, the passage of a Marcellus Shale package, private-sector job growth, and more.


  • Governor Corbett released his 2012-13 state budget this week. Sharon Ward shared her op-ed on the Governor's budget proposal, and Chris Lilienthal highlighted key points from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's analysis of the budget.
  • On the Marcellus Shale, Michael Wood blogged about the Legislature's passage of a shale package, including a drilling fee that has one of the lowest rates in the nation.
  • On jobs and the economy, Mark Price compared claims linking private-sector job growth to 2011 state tax and spending policy with a rooster taking credit for the sunrise.
  • And in the Morning Must Reads this week, Mark Price shared news reports on how charter schools are putting a drain on school district budgets, what to expect on Budget Day, movement on state legislation that would enable 17,000 Pennsylvania workers to qualify for federally-funded unemployment insurance, and efforts in Washington to weaken extended unemployment benefits.

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

Morning Must Reads: Haute Couture, Extended Unemployment Benefits and Nursing Home Cuts

ZoolanderProject Runway fans (don't judge) know that this week is Fashion Week in New York. So in a nod to our fashion forward readers comes a story about an effort to provide more workplace protections for fashion models.

Morning Must Reads: Asset Test Snark, School Police and Property Taxes

Lancaster Rep. Mike Sturla was quoted in Capitolwire (paywall) on a Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) proposal to limit access to SNAP, or food stamp, benefits to households with fewer than $5,500 in assets:

"We're going to take the concept of the safety net and flip it and tell people they have to impoverish themselves before they get the benefits."

This quote caught the eye of the Commonwealth Foundation's Nathan Benefield.

Morning Must Reads: New Year, Same Old Economic Austerity

From November 2009 to November 2010, Pennsylvania added 63,300 jobs. From November 2010 to November 2011, the state added just 51,000.

Wait, isn't that backwards? Nope. A weak economy, the end of federal Recovery Act funds and state budget cuts slowed the pace of Pennsylvania job growth in the most recent year.

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