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This is the first in a series of blog posts assessing the 2016-17 budget and the budget negotiation process from PBPC and its allies.

It’s hard to be a progressive in Pennsylvania. We think of ourselves as a modern, Northeastern state on a par with Massachusetts and New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. But when it comes to state politics, we find ourselves looking with envy at those states with their progressive taxes and higher (and much more equal) spending on education and human services than here at home.

Third and State This Week: A Missed Opportunity, Unpaid Internships, Expanding Medicaid and Mother's Day

This week at Third and State, we blogged about a missed opportunity in the House to close corporate tax loopholes, the troubling trend of employers taking on unpaid interns to do work once performed by paid staff, the public health benefits of expanding Medicaid coverage, more on Pennsylvania's job growth ranking, and a Mother's Day look at the number of Pennsylvania moms who benefit from key federal tax credits that may be at risk.


  • On state budget and taxes, Sharon Ward shared her statement on the passage of a House bill enacting hundreds of millions in new corporate tax cuts. The bill represented a missed opportunity to close tax loopholes, Sharon wrote. We also posted our live Twitter coverage of the House floor debate on that bill.
  • On higher education and the economy, Jamar Thrasher blogged about the troubling trend of employers recruiting unpaid interns to perform duties that were once performed by paid staff.
  • On health care, Chris Lilienthal wrote that expanding Medicaid in Pennsylvania will make Pennsylvanians healthier and more financially stable — and even save lives.
  • On jobs and the economy, Stephen Herzenberg delved a little deeper into Pennsylvania's job growth performance in light of recent remarks by the Governor.
  • And with Mother's Day this weekend, Sharon Ward blogged about the hundreds of thousands of working moms in Pennsylvania who rely on the Earned Income and Child Tax Credits to make ends meet. 



  • Join the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center on Tuesday, May 14 from 4 to 5 p.m. for a webinar on making the Medicaid expansion a reality in Pennsylvania. Learn more and register to participate.
  • Join the Keystone Research Center and Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center on June 13 for our Annual Awards Dinner at the Hilton Harrisburg. Learn more and purchase tickets.

Third and State This Week: A Call to Close Loopholes on Tax Day, Pensions and Latest PA Job Numbers

This week at Third and State, we marked Tax Day by blogging about where our tax dollars go and why Pennsylvania should close corporate tax loopholes. We also wrote about our analysis of the Governor's corporate tax cut plan, our latest Pension Primer, and the Pennsylvania job numbers for March. Plus, a radio podcast on the state of the American economy that featured Mark Price.


  • On Tax Day, Chris Lilienthal highlighted infographics and other resources showing you where your state and federal tax dollars go. Sharon Ward shared her Harrisburg Patriot-News op-ed calling on state lawmakers to close loopholes and get Pennsylvania's fiscal house in order before considering new tax cuts. Finally, Kate Atkins shared photos from a Tax Day event in Harrisburg where volunteers made a call to close loopholes.
  • On state budget and taxes, Michael Wood wrote about Governor Corbett's plan to cut corporate tax rates by 30% over a decade. Noticeably absent from the plan is any effort to close corporate tax loopholes that have drained resources from schools, universities, and county human services.
  • On pensions, Stephen Herzenberg blogged that Governor Corbett's pension plan has a serious case of pension deficit disorder — if enacted, it will increase the state's pension debt by $5 billion between now and 2019..
  • On jobs and unemployment, Chris Lilienthal passed on a news report on the March job numbers for Pennsylvania. Mark Price shared a podcast of a Minnesota Public Radio show where he and journalist Heidi Moore discussed jobs and the state of the American economy.


  • The Keystone Research Center released the fourth installment in its Pension Primer series this week. You can read all the Pension Primers and Stephen Herzenberg's testimony before the Pennsylvania State House Government Committee at KRC's Pensions Issue Page.
  • Read the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's full analysis of the Governor's proposal to enact costly new business tax cuts in the years ahead.
  • Read PBPC's statement opposing House legislation that creates tax breaks to subsidize new markets for natural gas producers at the expense of schools and other priorities.


  • Join Steve Herzenberg of the Keystone Research Center on 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.


  • Learn more about the federal opportunity to expand health coverage in Pennsylvania at PBPC's Medicaid Expansion Resource Page.
  • Learn more about education in Pennsylvania at PBPC's Education Facts Page with data on student enrollment, education funding, and school poverty.

On Tax Day, Understanding Where Our Tax Dollars Go

With the deadline upon us for filing state and federal tax returns, the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has put together a resource web page to help you understand what your tax dollars support. We also highlight reports and educational materials on closing tax loopholes and improving overall tax fairness.

As the chart to the right shows, most of the federal budget supports defense, Social Security and major health programs. As federal policymakers and citizens weigh key decisions about revenues and expenditures, it is instructive to examine what the federal government does with the money it collects. The chart is from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Public investments by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania educate our children, keep our communities safe, move people to work over roads and transit systems, and care for seniors, children and people with disabilities. More than 80 cents of every state General Fund dollar is spent on education, health and human services, or public safety. See the graphic below detailing General Fund spending in 2012-13.

Third and State This Week: What to Make of Fiscal Cliff Deal, PA Revenue Update & Slow Down Lottery Privatization

It was a short week at Third and State coming off the holidays, but we still have a few must reads for you. We blogged about the Fiscal Cliff deal, the Corbett administration's decision to slow down the lottery privatization train and the latest on state revenue collections.


  • On federal taxes, Sharon Ward wrote that the Fiscal Cliff deal reached by President Obama and Congress on January 1 was both historic and disappointing — and it leaves much unsettled.
  • On the state budget, Michael Wood blogged about December revenue collections which put the state $171 million ahead of estimates midway through the 2012-13 Fiscal Year.
  • On privatization, Stephen Herzenberg wrote that the Corbett administration made the right decision in slowing down the lottery privatization train and that even more time was needed for a full and transparent review.

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

What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?

Tell us what you think about the Fiscal Cliff deal. Take our two-question survey.

The agreement reached by President Obama and Congress on January 1 was both historic and disappointing — and it leaves much unsettled. The urgency of the Fiscal Cliff has dissipated, but significant threats remain to federal funding for state and local services as well as refundable tax credits for low-income working families, Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.

Third and State This Week: Listen to Main Street, Tax Cuts Drive State Funding Gap and More on Federal Fiscal Debate

This week at Third and State, we blogged about how corporate tax cuts are contributing to a gap between state expenditures and revenues, an effort to get real small business voices heard in the federal fiscal debate, corporate tax subsidies run amok in the states, a fiscal cliff primer from Springfield's favorite CEO, C. Montgomery Burns, and more.


  • In response to the state's midyear budget briefing, Sharon Ward shared an infographic showing how unaffordable state business tax cuts are driving a gap between expenditures and revenues in the next budget.
  • On tax subsidies, Mark Price blogged about a New York Times report detailing the tax breaks and credits provided by state and local governments to businesses.
  • On federal taxes, Chris Lilienthal wrote about the Main Street Alliance's efforts to get real small business voices heard in the federal fiscal debate. Mark Price wrote about the different priorities of Pennsylvania's two U.S. senators in addressing federal deficit reduction.
  • On the state budget and other policies, Mark Price blogged about editorial page assessments of Governor Tom Corbett's administration midway through his first term.
  • Finally, we had a Friday Funny featuring Mr. Burns of The Simpsons explaining the fiscal cliff.

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

Morning Must Reads: Different Priorities For Different Senators

Proposals to avert the fiscal cliff shouldn't increase poverty or inequality or slow the economic recovery. Those simple common-sense principles appear to be gaining increasing visibility and support, which is the best news this morning.

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