State Budget and Taxes

Third and State This Week: July Jobs, Public Sector Wages, an Insurance Marketplace and Why People Move

This week, we blogged about the future of purchasing health care insurance, the state of employment in Pennsylvania, the wages of public versus private sector workers and more!

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On public sector wages, Stephen Herzenberg highlighted the recent, albeit not surprising, findings of an Economic Policy Institute study documenting that jobs in Pennsylvania state and local government are not the way to get rich.
  • On unions, taxes and migration, Michael Wood debunked claims that the outmigration of Pennsylvania taxpayers can be linked to unions. Most of the departures between 2004 and 2009, Mike writes, were to states with warmer climates.
  • On health insurance, Christopher Lilienthal blogged about the creation of a competitive health-insurance marketplace in Pennsylvania and how that will make purchasing high-quality and affordable health care easier and more efficient.
  • On jobs and the economy, Sean Brandon sorts through the recent labor market data and explains why we shouldn't put too much stock in a single month's jobs numbers, good or bad.

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

News Flash: PA Public-Sector Jobs Not Path to Riches

The Economic Policy Institute has a new report out documenting — surprise, surprise — that jobs in Pennsylvania state and local government aren’t the way to get rich.

The report, authored by Rutgers University labor and employment relations Professor Jeffrey Keefe, shows that Pennsylvania public-sector workers make the same or slightly less in wages plus benefits than comparable Pennsylvania private-sector workers. The more-generous benefits of public-sector workers are balanced by lower wages and salaries.

We weren’t very surprised by this result. We had made similar observations earlier this year.

Could It Be the Weather?

The Delaware County Daily Times reprinted a story from the PA Independent (the state news service started by the Commonwealth Foundation) which mistakenly blames unions for the out-migration of taxpayers in the state.

Here is the claim:

The Tax Foundation, a Washington, D.C., tax policy nonprofit, tracks tax returns filed in every state to determine how shifts in population affect working by tracking the Social Security numbers of income tax returns filed with the IRS each year.

Between 1999 and 2008, Pennsylvania saw an overall decline of 84,000 tax returns. The top three destinations for people leaving Pennsylvania during that time — Florida, Virginia and North Carolina — are all right to work states. The data is the most recent available.

There are a couple of problems with this rationale.

Third and State This Week: The Standard and Poor's Downgrade, Public Job Losses, and Energy Investment Bankers and the Marcellus Shale

Programming Note: Third and State will be taking the week of August 15 off. See you back here on August 22.

This week at Third and State, we blogged about the Standard and Poor's downgrade, doubts raised by energy investment bankers about a Marcellus Shale economic impact study, public employment job losses and more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On the economy, Mark Price blogged about the Standard and Poor's downgrade and the other "decidedly grim" economic news of the past couple weeks.
  • On the Marcellus Shale, Michael Wood wrote about doubts being cast by energy investment bankers on the findings in the Marcellus Shale Coalition's recent economic impact study. And, reacting to a recent Bloomberg News story, Mark Price reminded us that 72,000 new hires in the Marcellus industries is not the same as new jobs created.
  • Finally, Chris Lilienthal shared a graphic from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities highlighting the loss of 611,000 jobs in state and local governments during and after the Great Recession.

See you on August 22, 2011. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Public Employment Job Losses a Drag on Economy

Add this to the list of reasons that the economic recovery is limping along. Our friends at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explain:

July’s employment report included more bad news from states and localities:  job losses are continuing. Since August 2008, state and local governments have slashed 611,000 positions, and the cuts have been getting worse — 340,000 of those jobs were lost in the last 12 months. July was the ninth consecutive month, and the 29th out of the last 35, in which total state and local employment shrank.

  Three Years of State and Local Job Losses  

Third and State This Week: Jobs and the Marcellus Shale, Personal Incomes and the Myth of Tax Flight

This week, we blogged about the myth of tax flight, Marcellus Shale drilling and the state economy, and the increasing share of Americans drawing income from public programs like Social Security and unemployment compensation.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On the federal budget and the economy, Emma Lowenberg wrote that more Americans are drawing income from government programs like Social Security and unemployment benefits. While some of this change can be attributed to naturally aging populations, much is undoubtedly the result of higher unemployment rates.
  • On the state budget, Chris Lilienthal highlighted a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities busting the common myth that if you increase state taxes (or don't cut them), people will up and leave for lower tax states.
  • Finally, on the Marcellus Shale, Mark Price blogged that while oil and gas extraction is helping to reduce unemployment in Pennsylvania, it remains an open question precisely how big the impact is, given how small employment in that sector is relative to an economy that employs 5.8 million people.

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

Tax Flight Is a Myth, Report Finds

We’ve heard it before. If you increase state taxes, people will up and leave for lower tax states — especially the most affluent residents. You often hear the same argument used to support tax cuts.

A compelling new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities busts this common myth advanced by those who oppose a balanced approach to budgeting and tax policy. Turns out Americans move from state to state for a variety of reasons, but tax levels rarely factor in.

Third and State This Week: States Cutting Budgets, the Debt Ceiling Debate, and a Middle Class 'Under Attack'

This week, we blogged about the looming debt ceiling crisis in Washington, how state budget cuts will hurt the economic recovery, Marcellus Shale job claims, a new report on the middle class in Pennsylvania and more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • This week was a busy one for Mark Price, who penned four of our five blog posts. On the Marcellus Shale, Mark corrected an inaccurate figure in a recent Wall Street Journal piece about jobs created in Pennsylvania from Marcellus Shale drilling.
  • On the economy, Mark wrote about a recent report from the Keystone Research Center and the national policy center Demos on a middle class that is "under attack" in Pennsylvania. He also blogged about a new policy brief analyzing Pennsylvania's June jobs report.
  • On the federal debt ceiling debate, Mark shared his op-ed on this "manufactured crisis" which ran on FoxNews.com this week.
  • Finally, on the state budget, Chris Lilienthal highlighted a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities finding that at least 38 of 47 states are cutting K-12 education, higher education, health care, or other key public services in 2012. According to the report, this cuts-only approach that most states have taken will slow the recovery and weaken the nation’s economy over the long term.

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

State Cuts to Education, Health Care Will Slow Recovery

We have written about the negative impact that deep cuts to state funding will have for Pennsylvania children, seniors and our economy. Now a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that we aren't alone.

At least 38 of the 47 states with new 2011-12 budgets are cutting K-12 education, higher education, health care, or other key public services, according to the report. As Policy Analyst Erica Williams writes at the Center's Off the Charts Blog:

While states continue to face rising numbers of children enrolled in public schools, students enrolled in universities, and seniors eligible for health and long-term care services, most states (37 of 44 states for which data are available) plan to spend less on services in 2012 than they spent in 2008, adjusted for inflation — in some cases, much less.

State lawmakers no doubt faced tough decisions this year, with revenues still far below pre-recession levels and emergency federal aid all but expired.  Still, our review shows that the cuts are unnecessarily harmful, unbalanced, and counterproductive.

Third and State This Week: Marcellus Shale, Budget Cuts and the Economy, and a Pa. Jobs Update

This week, we blogged about new reports on the Marcellus Shale, the economic impact of state budget cuts, the latest Pennsylvania jobs report and a groundbreaking new study on the health and financial impacts of Medicaid.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On the Marcellus Shale, Sharon Ward shared her response to the final report and recommendations of the Governor's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, which reads like an industry wish list. Earlier in the week, Sharon shared her response to an industry-funded study that overstates the economic benefits and underestimates the costs of increased shale drilling. Chris Lilienthal, meanwhile, summed up the news coverage on the industry study.
  • On the state budget, Mark Price blogged about the impact of budget cuts on economic growth. Those states that made steep public spending cuts in the wake of the Great Recession have seen weaker economic growth in the years since, he wrote, citing research from the Center for American Progress.
  • On jobs and unemployment, Mark wrote that Pennsylvania's June jobs report provides cause for concern.
  • And, on health care, intern Emma Lowenberg highlighted a groundbreaking study out of Oregon showing that Medicaid has positive health and financial impacts.

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

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