Morning Must Reads: Homelessness in Shale Country, Higher Education Cuts and the Federal Budget

NPR this morning broadcast a WPSU story about the rise in homelessness in Tioga County. The story provides a nice reminder that increased economic activity is often associated with rising demands on the social safety net.

In case you missed it on Monday, The Philadelphia Inquirer explored the impact of cuts in state funding for higher education.

Morning Must Reads: Budget Day

The Philadelphia Inquirer this morning previews big cuts to state support for higher education in today's budget proposal from Governor Corbett. Last year's budget hit poor k-12 school districts hard. This year's cuts to higher education, as the Inquirer story illustrates, are likely to result in rising tuition, which will only make it harder for low-income students to gain access to one of the most important institutions we have for reducing inequality. 

Morning Must Reads: SOTU 2012: Community Colleges, Workforce Development, Taxes & Infrastructure

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a pretty good summary of the State of the Union.

Here is the full text of the President's speech, and Wonkblog has a version of the speech with only what they define as specific policy proposals.

What follows are our favorites from the speech.

Morning Must Reads: PA Department of Public Welfare Adviser Resigns $100K Job Over Conservative Journal, More on Banks

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports this morning that Bank of New York Mellon has reached a partial settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Under the deal, the bank will stop listing services as "free" that it, in fact, charges a fee for. What remains to be settled are monetary damages for allegations that the bank overcharged pension plans and other clients for financial services.

Morning Must Reads: Perfectly Legal Forms of Wage Theft and Build Baby Build!

When you tip your server at a restaurant, you probably assume that all of that money goes to the server. If you use a credit card to pay, you would be wrong. 

It is very common for restaurant owners to use a portion of those tips to pay credit card processing fees.

The Philadelphia Daily News reports this morning that Philadelphia City Council has passed a law that stops restaurant owners from stealing from servers in this way. 

Third and State This Week: Income Inequality, Funding Woes for Schools and Transit, and a Citizens' Take on Shale

This week, we blogged about rising inequality, the financial troubles of public schools and public transportation, and the recommendations made by the Citizens Marcellus Shale Commission.


  • On the Marcellus Shale, Mark Price blogged about the Citizens Commission report, which found that Pennsylvanians believe gas drilling has moved too quickly and that public officials need to do a better job protecting their communities and environment. Chris Lilienthal also highlighted the report along with a recent press conference where lawmakers from both parties called for drillers to pay their fair share.
  • On inequality, Stephen Herzenberg shared his response to the speech on income inequality that U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor never delivered. The Congressman canceled his planned speech at the University of Pennsylvania last week after learning that the event would be open to the public. Also, Mark Price summarized new data from the Congressional Budget Office showing that the after-tax income of the richest 1% nearly tripled between 1979 and 2007.
  • On jobs and unemployment, Mark Price provided a rundown of Pennsylvania's September jobs report, which showed a loss of just over 15,000 jobs last month.
  • On state budget and taxes, Mark Price wrote about legislators' attempts to create a tax loophole for the sale and service of airplanes, while Pittsburgh's Port Authority remains significantly underfunded. Mark also pointed out that while Philadelphia schools are faced with further budget cuts, elected officials are considering a school voucher program that would drain even more revenue from public school classrooms. 

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

Morning Must Reads: No Revenue for Public Transportation & Corporations Need Another Tax Loophole for their Jets

On Thursday, we learned that Pennsylvania shed just over 15,000 jobs in September with more than half of those job losses occurring in the public sector.

This morning we learn that thanks in part to the Commonwealth's failure to fund public transportation, a private corporation is very interested in charging a fee to cut service and employment at the Port Authority of Pittsburgh.

Authority officials last month warned of a 'death spiral' of deeper service cuts along with layoffs and fare increases if Gov. Tom Corbett and the Legislature don't provide funding that is reliable and grows with inflation. CEO Steve Bland said the agency faces a projected $64 million deficit for the fiscal year beginning July 1 unless state aid is increased and the authority gains significant concessions from the union representing drivers and mechanics.

'Outsourcing or privatizing the Port Authority is an option we should look at,' said [Pittsburgh Transportation Group President and CEO Jamie] Campolongo, who said the agency is 'on [the] radar' of top officials of Veolia.

In related news, the Pennsylvania legislature is rumored to be considering naming Swiss cheese as the official the cheese of the Pennsylvania state tax code.

Third and State This Week: Rising Unemployment, a Health Insurance Rate Hike and Momentum for a Drilling Tax

This week we blogged about momentum building for a natural gas drilling tax and rising unemployment in Pennsylvania. We also featured a guest post on the need for stronger insurance rate protections in Pennsylvania. And Mark Price kept us up to date with the Morning Must Reads.


  • On jobs and unemployment, Stephen Herzenberg shared his media statement on the rising jobless rate in Pennsylvania.
  • On the Marcellus Shale, Sharon Ward highlighted a recent New York Times article on the problems that have come with Marcellus Shale growth in Pennsylvania. Kate Atkins urged readers to sign a letter to lawmakers in support of a drilling tax that would generate revenue to improve schools, fix roads, train workers, and protect the environment.
  • On health care, Athena Ford of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network penned a guest post on the need for better insurance rate protections in Pennsylvania.
  • Finally, Mark Price had Morning Must Reads on the economic polarization of the 99%, the need for more accountability in charter schools, how we can boost the economy, and what budget cuts and layoffs have in common.

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

Morning Must Reads: Yes Bridges Need Repair & Little Old Ladies Are Homeless But Ask Yourself Have We Really Done Enough for the Top 1%?

With unemployment in the construction industry at record highs, interest rates low and a deep backlog of thousands of structurally deficient bridges in need of repair, now is a great time to spend money to fix stuff do nothing!

Actually, it is not really that bad; it's worse. The Pennsylvania Legislature is spending time debating changes to the state's prevailing wage statute, even though a large body of empirical research demonstrates that changes to prevailing wage laws do not lower construction costs.  Anyway, if you find yourself in Pittsburgh, make sure your car seat also doubles as a floatation device.

Third and State This Week: The Guv's Drilling Fee, Bruce Bartlett on Regulations, and Occupy Wall Street in PA

This week, we blogged about Marcellus Shale tax and fee proposals and the latest state revenue numbers. Meanwhile, Mark Price kept us up-to-date with the Morning Must Reads, debunking false claims about skills mismatch, staging a three-act play on zombie banksters and much more.


  • On the Marcellus Shale, Sharon Ward shared her media statement on Governor Corbett's proposed drilling impact fee, which "fails to capture for Pennsylvanians the true worth of this vast natural resource and fails to fully offset the short and long-term damage that will be done by the industry."
  • Sharon also blogged about remarks she made at a recent press conference on Representatives Tom Murt and Gene DiGirolamo's drilling tax plan, which would bring Pennsylvania into the mainstream of other energy-producing states.
  • On state budget and taxes, Michael Wood analyzed Pennsylvania's first quarter revenue collections, which showed respectable growth over the first quarter of 2010. 
  • And Mark Price kept waking up early this week to troll the morning headlines for your must read news of the day. Don't miss this week's posts on Occupy Wall Street coming to Pennsylvania; Reagan adviser Bruce Bartlett on the real problem with the economy (hint: it ain't regulations); false claims in the media about skills mismatch and the unemployed; the failure of politicians to aid struggling homeowners; and of course those zombie banksters.

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

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