State Budget and Taxes

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.

What Would an Adequate Pennsylvania Budget Look Like This Year?

What Would an Adequate Pennsylvania Budget Look Like This Year? 

A really good budget for Pennsylvania would begin addressing our long-term public investment deficit. It would provide new funds to: 

  • eliminate our worst-in-the-nation inequality in K-12 school funding; 
  • expand pre-K education to all three and four year-olds;
  • make higher education more accessable, especially to students from low-income families;
  • restore the funding that would allow the Department of Environment to better protect our air and water;
  • provide new funding to repair roads and bridges and support public transit.

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead

Sam Brownback became governor of Kansas in 2010, just as Tom Corbett became governor of Pennsylvania. Brownback and Corbett, with the help of Republican majorities in their legislatures, embarked on an extremist Wizard of Oz economic agenda of cutting taxes, especially for large businesses, and reducing spending on education and human services. Spending as a share of the state’s economy dropped by 10% in our state.
 
Faced with slow economic growth, stark budget deficits, and citizens who were demanding better public services, a bi-partisan majority in the legislature in Kansas this week stood up for common sense against Wizard of Oz extremism and, over Brownback’s veto, rolled back many of those tax cuts.
 
Is this the year that state legislators in Pennsylvania also embrace common sense and reject extremism?
 

Attacks on Public Sector Workers Hurt Working People and Benefit the Rich

Republican lawmakers in the Pennsylvania House and Senate continue to promote bills that would reduce the power of public sector unions by undercutting them financially. These bills would make it harder or illegal to collect some current contributions to unions (e.g., from non-members who enjoy higher wages and benefits and workplace representation from public sector unions).

House GOP Budget Unites Pennsylvanians Across the Political Spectrum ... in CONDEMNING It

House Bill 218, the unbalanced, cuts-only budget that House Republican leaders fast-tracked through the lower chamber in a near party-line vote last week, has provoked plenty of criticism. Not surprisingly, Democratic legislators decried the many cuts that accompany a budget that reduces total expenditures by 1% over the current fiscal year.

Guest Blogger: We Must Have Missed the Memo

by Jin David Kim, Communications Director, PCCY

Some state representatives, siding with the research and the will of the people they represent, have boarded the quality pre-k train only to threaten to derail it in this, the first week of PA’s budget process.

The (Wholly Inadequate) GOP Budget Proposal (HB 218)

The House Republican Budget proposal for 2017-2017 is deeply problematic in six respects. 

First, the proposal does not close the state’s budget deficit, but leaves a gap of close to $800 million. Most of the revenue ideas presented by the House Republican Caucus to fill that gap are similar to the one-time revenues and fund transfers that have failed to fix our structural deficit in the past. The Republicans do not seem to be considering any proposal to increase recurring revenues by fixing our upside-down tax system.

The Obamacare repeal is a state budget time bomb

This piece originally ran in Pennlive on January 26, 2017.

You think Pennsylvania has budget problems now? Wait until the Affordable Care Act is gone. 

That's probably a parochial, Harrisburg-centric way of looking at the consequences of repealing Obamacare.

The ACA has benefited Pennsylvanians in so many ways that its eventual repeal will be terribly painful.

We recently released a report that shows that 1.1 million Pennsylvanians will lose insurance and additional 3,250 deaths will occur each year as a result.

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