State Budget and Taxes

Friday Podcast: Growing the Revenue Pie

This week, I joined educators, students, advocates for women and domestic violence victims, faith groups and more to deliver pies to all 253 of our state lawmakers. Yes, pies.

Our message was simple: Grow the state's revenue pie by closing tax loopholes and ending special interest tax breaks. A cuts-only budget is going to hurt middle-class families and drive up local property taxes.

In Case You Missed It: Third and State Blog for Week of March 28

Senator Jeff Piccola expanding school vouchers concept to include Pennsylvanians trapped in low-performing families? A state worker stunned to learn her mid-level administrative job is no pathways to riches? A Corbett speechwriter struck with a rare illness afflicting writers of overwrought clichés?

Either it's a particularly zany news day — or it's the first of April!

In Third and State's Friday Funny, we pass on an April Fool's take on the latest un-news coming out of Harrisburg. (Our thanks to a loyal blog reader for passing this one along.)

In other news this week, we blogged about the taxes gas drillers do (or don't) pay, why the minimum wage matters, imaginative tax avoidance strategies, and much more! 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • For much of the week, it was the Mark Price Show at Third and State. On wages, Mark explained just how much the minimum wage matters and why the failure of policymakers to peg it to growth in productivity (or even inflation) has had a wide-ranging impact on American society.
  • On jobs and unemployment, Mark blogged about imaginative tax avoidance strategies at work at General Electric.
  • And on fiscal and monetary policy, Mark wrote about the Federal Reserve's policymaking role and why it is so important to the economic recovery.
  • Finally, Michael Wood has a post on the taxes that natural gas drillers in the Marcellus Shale are (or are not) paying.

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

Governor Needs a 'Vision' Check on Marcellus Shale

Governor Corbett claimed in a recent Patriot-News story that Marcellus Shale gas drillers have paid $71 million in sales taxes over the last two years as proof that the industry is paying an adequate share of taxes. It's a big number, but isn't likely accurate for a number of reasons.

In Case You Missed It: Third and State Blog for Week of March 21

This week on Third and State, we blogged about Marcellus Shale trickle down economics, the Affordable Care Act's first birthday, unions and inequality, and much more!

In case you missed it:

  • On the Marcellus Shale, Mike Wood notes that trickle down economics is not helping the local communities across Pennsylvania hosting increased natural gas drilling.
  • On health care, Chris Lilienthal highlights a "consumers' hearing" in the State Capitol Rotunda on the one-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act's passage. The hearing presented the perspective of Pennsylvanians who have benefited from the law - a perspective that was omitted from a congressional hearing on the landmark law also held at Pennsylvania's State Capitol this week.
  • On federal tax issues, Chris blogs about an interview on WHYY's Fresh Air that explained some of the accounting gimmicks that large corporations use to shelter income overseas and avoid as much as $90 billion a year in U.S. taxes.
  • On wages and income inequality, Mark Price shares research documenting that in economies where more people are covered by unions, there is less inequality.
  • Finally, Mark has this week's Friday Funny: The Daily Show's Jon Stewart takes on new governors, mean stepdads and confusion within the administration of Maine's new governor about what exactly a mural is.

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

Trickle Down Economics Not Helping Marcellus Shale Communities

The counties hosting the most Marcellus Shale gas drilling are showing early signs of increased economic activity, but little in the way of increased resources.

The smart people at Penn State's Cooperative Extension (which is shortsightedly cut by 50% in the Governor's 2011-12 budget proposal) looked at state tax collections by county and noticed that certain types of taxes are performing better in areas of heavy drilling activity than in the rest of the state. Based on anecdotes of filled hotel rooms, increased restaurant usage, and checks to landowners for drilling rights, it is not surprising to see an initial uptick in royalty income and sales tax receipts in those counties.

For local governments and schools hosting the activity, there are increased demands for services like education, health care, police, and emergency responders, to name a few. The problem is that these communities receive almost no benefit due to the state's tax structure.

In Case You Missed It: Third and State Blog for Week of March 14

This week on Third and State, we blogged about the state budget, privatization, fruit salad (really?), and much more!

In case you missed it:

  • On the state budget, Sharon Ward shared resources from the Pennsylvania Budget Summit this week and wrote about priorities in the budget. Chris Lilienthal, meanwhile, highlighted a United Way of Pennsylvania survey documenting just how much budget cuts and the recession have taken a toll on vulnerable Pennsylvanians and the organizations that help them.
  • On privatization, Michael Wood took a closer look at the real costs of privatization, with highlights from a Budget Summit session on the topic.
  • In debunking claims about public- versus private-sector wages in Governor Corbett's budget speech, Mark Price suggested that the Governor's speech writers are fond of fruit salad — or at least apple-to-pears comparisons.
  • Finally, Mark has this week's "Dark Humor" Friday Funny: an article from The Onion explaining why March Madness has office employees in Columbus, Ohio thinking about how many of their co-workers were laid off in the wake of the recession.

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

Yes, Years of Budget Cuts Have Taken a Toll on Pennsylvanians

Over the past week, much has been said and written about Governor Corbett’s proposed state budget cuts. Naturally, the debate has focused on the future, but we should also take stock of what has happened over the past couple years.

The United Way of Pennsylvania is helping with that. In a new survey of more than 1,000 nonprofit organizations, it found that the deep recession created a greater need for services for out-of-work Pennsylvanians and their families, while diminishing the resources that service providers have to help them.

What's the Real Cost of Privatization?

Privatization is a buzz word in Pennsylvania these days, even if no specific plans were put forth in Governor Corbett's budget proposal last week.

At the Pennsylvania Budget Summit on Monday, I heard from Shar Habibi of In the Public Interest on the broad issue of privatization. She shared some of the experiences of other state and local governments across the U.S. that have tried to sell off public assets or farm out services to private companies, usually for a quick infusion of cash. The D.C-based group's latest report goes through the basics of privatization deals and some of the issues that policymakers should consider before signing on the dotted line.

Budget Summit Recap: A Question of Priorities

If you were one of the 140 people who attended our Pennsylvania Budget Summit on Monday, your head is probably still spinning from an overload of information.

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (PBPC) has posted PowerPoint presentations and other resources from the Summit online, and we will be posting more, including video highlights, later in the week.

For now, I wanted to share a few thoughts from the Summit.

In Case You Missed It: Third and State Blog for Week of March 7

This week on Third and State, we blogged about Governor Corbett's state budget proposal, ways to grow the economy and promote broadly shared prosperity, "Mad Men" who like fast trains, and much more!

In case you missed it:

  • On the state budget, Sharon Ward explained why Governor Corbett's proposed 2011-12 budget should worry parents and property taxpayers, and Chris Lilienthal shared some budget resources and information from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.
  • On wages and the economy, Mark Price challenged the notion that education alone is the cure-all for the economy's woes and instead invokes the employee-focused business model used by The Container Store as an example of how to boost economic growth and broadly shared prosperity. Mark also delved deeper into the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's business climate rankings in a post titled "You Will Never Be Poor Enough."
  • On other economic issues, Mark shared a 60 Minutes segment on homeless children, while Steve Herzenberg passed on a powerful story that conveys one of the most critical roles that unions play.
  • Finally, we continue a new weekly series we're calling "The Friday Funny." This week, "Mad Men" who like fast trains (with a hat tip to PennPIRG's Megan DeSmedt for passing along).

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

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