Transportation

Morning Must Reads: Helping the Poor Not a Core Mission of the PA Department of Public Welfare?

The Philadelphia Inquirer this morning reports on the move by the Corbett administration to end programs that help low-income households file their taxes.

These programs are especially important because they raise the rate at which low-income households file for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The credit provides these households with much-needed income that ends up getting spent in the local community.

Asked about the cuts, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Welfare, an agency that spent thousands on a flagpole recently, noted that helping people to apply for the EITC is not a core service of the Department of Public Welfare.

Morning Must Reads: The Impact of Economic Austerity, Student Loans and the Geography of Manufacturing

The U.S. economy is growing, albeit too slowly to make a substantial and badly needed dent in the unemployment rate. Growth in the U.S. economy will almost certainly mean continued growth in the Pennsylvania economy.

The most important risk to Pennsylvania's job growth in 2012 remains job losses among teachers, nurses and other public servants caused by federal and state budget cuts. 

Inequality and Infrastructure

U.S. funding of infrastructure has declined dramatically since the 1960s, and Congress appears to be moving in the direction of even more cutbacks in the years ahead.

There is a bit of irony to this. With borrowing costs still very low and the market still somewhat depressed, now would be an ideal time for government to step up investment in infrastructure. In other words, it costs a lot less to build roads and bridges today than it might down the road if we hold off on the billions of dollars in needed repairs.

Morning Must Reads: Governing Little or Just Governing Badly?

On Tuesday, The Nation ran a story profiling the changes in economic and social policy in the states following the 2010 election. (Wonky readers may also enjoy Konczal and Covert's short briefing paper on the same subject.)

This Week at Third and State: School Bus Contracting, Voter ID and the Misguided Food Stamps Asset Test

This week, we blogged about a new report on the higher costs of contracting out school bus transportation to private companies, the expensive voter ID bill approved this week, an op-ed from the CEO of Weis Markets on the misguided asset test being proposed for food assistance, and much more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On privatization, Stephen Herzenberg blogged about a new Keystone Research Center report finding that private school bus transportation services in Pennsylvania cost more than when districts provide their own transportation, underscoring that privatization is not always the best option.
  • On voter ID, Chris Lilienthal wrote about this costly plan earlier in the week and later included a link to a news story after its final passage on Wednesday.
  • On food assistance, Chris Lilienthal highlighted an op-ed by Weis Markets CEO David J. Hepfinger explaining what a bad idea it is to impose an assets test on people who are seeking food assistance.
  • On health care, Sharon Ward shared the podcast of her appearance on WITF's Radio Smart Talk, in which she discussed the future of health and human services in Pennsylvania.
  • And in the Morning Must Reads this week, Mark Price highlighted a news report on a new study that predicts fiscal distress in Pennsylvania school districts thanks to state budget cuts, articles comparing the gas booms in North Dakota and Pennsylvania, and a piece examining whether the settlement between states and mortgage lenders over questionable document processing is accelerating foreclosure activity.

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

Let the Facts Get in the Way of a Good Story: Private School Bus Services in Pennsylvania Cost More

The standard conservative narrative is that private delivery of services and goods trumps government delivery. In Harrisburg, for example, Governor Corbett’s Council on Privatization and Innovation often presents its goal as privatization, taking for granted that this will be more efficient and cost-effective.

In fact, the record on privatization shows that in many cases privatization fails to deliver promised savings and can undercut service quality. That’s part of why Cornell Professor Mildred Warner has found that local governments often bring work back in house.

Third and State This Week: adultBasic One Year Later, What Works in PA and Income Inequality

This week, we blogged about "What Works in Pennsylvania," the one-year anniversary of adultBasic's end, income inequality and cuts to higher education, and much more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On health care, Chris Lilienthal wrote about a year of struggle for the Pennsylvanians who lost their adultBasic health care coverage this time last year.
  • On the state budget, Sharon Ward sat down with Tony May of Triad Strategies to discuss the 2012-13 state budget and shared a video of the interview. Chris Lilienthal also shared a video from the Campaign for What Works illustrating a key message for lawmakers: "Pennsylvania works when our state budget supports what works."
  • In the Morning Must Reads this week, Mark Price blogged about how cuts to higher ed funding contribute to income inequality, transit cuts and job training, how high unemployment is straining the safety net, and a roundup on closing tax loopholes, preventative care and health reform.

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

What Works in Pennsylvania

The Campaign for What Works has a great video illustrating the interconnectedness of the investments our state makes in a variety of areas from early childhood education to public transportation to workforce training. These investments not only improve the quality of life of Pennsylvanians but create jobs and build a stronger economy.

As the campaign says on its home page: "Pennsylvania works when our state budget supports what works."

Take a minute to watch the video and pass it on.

Morning Must Reads: Transit Cuts and Job Training In Its Many Forms

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports there will be a hearing today on the fare increases and service cuts facing the Port Authority of Allegheny County.

Morning Must Reads:The Pain Caucus in Europe and Pennsylvania

Paul Krugman leads off this morning with a review of the havoc created in Europe and here at home by what he calls the Pain Caucus.

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