State Budget and Taxes

Speaker Turzai: Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way

The Pennsylvania Budget for Fiscal 2017-2018 is still not finished. Pennsylvanians deserve to know why and who is responsible. The answer is the House Republican Caucus led by Speaker of the House Mike Turzai, who refuses to accept any plan for funding the budget already passed by the General Assembly that includes new, recurring revenue — that is revenue that is generated year after year. 

Are the Republicans Ready to Gut Higher Education to Avoid a Severance Tax on Natural Gas Drilling?

As we enter the third week of an impasse over funding the 2017-2018 Pennsylvania state budget, an astonishing possibility has come into view: the House Republicans, led by Speaker Mike and Turzai and Majority Leader Dave Reed, appear to be prepared to block funding for the four state-related universities – Penn State, University of Pittsburgh, Temple University and Lincoln University – rather than agree to the Governor’s demand that they raise $600 to $800 million in new recurring revenues.

PA House GOP Stealth Attack on Medicaid

**UPDATE 7/11/17 - 4:45 PM** The House passed the bill through to the Senate 102-91. The Senate must again vote on the bill as amended

PA House Republican leaders are trying to force Pennsylvania to seek federal waivers for our Medicaid program that would establish requirements that Medicaid recipients either be working or searching for a job and that that ask them to pay premiums or higher co-pays for their insurance. 

These ideas were part of Governor Corbett’s plan to expand Medicaid, which Governor Wolf rightly rejected.

MEMO: Revenue Options to Finish the 2017-18 Budget

MEMO

To: Editorial Page Editors, Editorial Board Members, Columnists, and Other Interested Parties

From: Marc Stier, Director, Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center

Date: July 10, 2017

Re: Revenue Options to Finish the 2017-18 Budget

S&P to PA: Snap Out of It

Remember when, in the movie Moonstruck, the character played by Nicholas Cage tells the character played by Cher that he loves her. And she slaps him in the face and says, “Snap out of it?”

The Republicans Of My Youth Didn't Encourage Vice

Note: This is the second of two pieces on the Republicans of my youth..

Part II: Encouraging Vice

The Republicans of my youth were not only men of fiscal rectitude, they were men of moral rectitude. I can’t say what they did in private. I’m sure some of them drank from time to time and some drank too much. They probably also gambled from time to time either on a trip to Las Vegas or at the local trotter track, or maybe with a local bookie. But in public they frowned on these vices. They believed that people had a right to make their own choices, but they believed that government had a responsibility to direct people away from behavior that could be dangerous to themselves or others.

The Republicans of My Youth Didn't Borrow to Balance Budgets

First of two pieces of why I miss the Repbulicans of my yout. 

There are times when I miss the old-fashioned Republicans of my youth, in the small-town America in which I grew up, about 40 miles over the Pennsylvania border in rural New York. Those mostly Protestant Republicans were the bankers, the insurance agents, the ministers, as well as many of the older doctors and lawyers. They didn’t like taxes. But they believed in the common good – in schools and parks and good sidewalks. In roads and bridges, in water system and sewers.

First Look at the 2017-18 State Budget

While we will need some time to analyze the details of the budget that the House and Senate will pass today, our preliminary view is that it is, as we had expected from the beginning of the year, an austere budget that does not really address the deep public investment deficit of the state, but it certainly could have been far worse. Given that the General Assembly seems utterly unwilling to raise revenues to meet public needs, negotiations by the leaders of the legislature and Governor Wolf have led to a budget that still takes some small steps forward.

A Severance Tax: The Basics

Pennsylvania has been considering a severance tax on natural gas for years. Here are four reasons it is long overdue: 

TALKING POINT #1: A severance tax can bring in substantial and, as natural gas prices rise, growing revenues to help close our budget and investment deficits now and in the future.

Governor Wolf’s proposal is projected to bring in $349 million next year, $712 million in 2018-2019 and $1.15 billion a year by 2021-22. (These are net revenues after deducting a credit for the impact fee already paid by natural gas drillers.) Even a tax at slightly lower levels brings in over $200 million next year and close to a billion dollars a year 2021-2022.

What is the Fair Share Tax?

The main reason that Pennsylvania’s tax system is so upside down — with the top 1% paying only 4.3% of their income in taxes while the middle 20% pays 10% — is that the Pennsylvania Constitution prohibits us from enacting a graduated personal income tax. Sales and property taxes tend to take a higher percentage of the income of taxpayers at the bottom and in the middle than at the top. But graduated income taxes in many states — including all of our neighbors — compensate by taxing those at the top at a higher rate.
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