Friday Funny: Altoona to Become 'Pom Wonderful'

Sometimes, the Friday Funny just writes itself.

This just in from The New York Times' Media Decoder Blog:

The documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock has found another catchy way to promote his next release, “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold,” which takes a wry look at product placement and the integration of brands in the plots of movies and TV shows.

The city of Altoona, Pa., agreed on Wednesday night to sell naming rights to Mr. Spurlock for 60 days, beginning on April 27. For a fee of $25,000, Altoona will be called after the full title of the film, which is “Pom Wonderful Presents the Greatest Movie Ever Sold.”

In DelCo, a Success Story that Raises Big Questions About Budget Priorities

Advocates, educators and parents delivered a message to Harrisburg Wednesday from the steps of the Delaware County Courthouse some 95 miles away: Don’t enact a state budget that will do real harm to working people and families in our communities.

Halfway through the press conference, a tall, broad-shouldered man named Wilson Bryant, who had been standing all the way in the back, head and shoulders above the crowd, walked to the front.  He said he didn’t have a speech prepared but wanted to testify about his personal story.  He had become seriously ill, he said, and, without health insurance, had lost his home and with it his sense of hope. 

Fact Checking West Virginia Drilling Claims

Acting Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser told lawmakers in a budget hearing last month that only 20 Marcellus Shale gas wells have been drilled in West Virginia since that state enacted a drilling tax, while Pennsylvania has had more than 600 such wells drilled.

As we explained in a recent policy brief, that’s not quite accurate.

According to World Oil Online, West Virginia led the nation in new gas wells in 2010, along with Texas and Arkansas — all of which have drilling taxes. Pennsylvania, without a drilling tax, came in sixth, with 833 new wells.

Not So Special Care

It has been just about six weeks since the adultBasic program came to an end, leaving 42,000 Pennsylvanians without affordable health insurance coverage. Governor Corbett ended the program, claiming that the state, and the Blues, were too poor to continue funding it.

Never mind that the Governor took $220 million in health care money to create a new business loan fund, or that Highmark just keeps raking in the dough. (More about that later.)

AdultBasic enrollees were encouraged to sign up for Special Care — a Blues product most notable for its winning combination of expensive premiums and lousy coverage — through two letters sent to recipients and in numerous phone calls with the soon-to-be uninsured. Their new friends, the Blues, would be only too happy to accommodate the newly uninsured.

So how’s that working out? Turns out, not so well.

Don't Know Much About History ...

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Last week, we released a report at the Keystone Research Center that has me humming an old Sam Cooke song. You probably know it. It goes:

Don't know much about history
Don't know much biology
Don't know much about a science book
Don't know much about the French I took

So why am I humming this oldie but goodie?

Well, because in Pennsylvania, we don’t know much about the 38,000 students who received taxpayer-funded scholarships in 2009-10 to attend private and religious schools under the state’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC).

In Case You Missed It: Third and State Blog for Week of April 4

This week, we blogged about oppressive regimes and income inequality, what the top CEOs are making these days and calls this week for state lawmakers to grow the revenue pie. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On wages, Stephen Herzenberg wrote that median CEO pay in 2010 rose 27%, compared to a 2.1% increase in the compensation of workers in private industry. And in light of recent discussion about public-sector pay, he pointed out that the two highest-paid CEOs in Pennsylvania earn a lot more than the 100 top-paid public-sector workers.
  • On income inequality, Chris Lilienthal shared highlights from a Vanity Fair article by Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz on income inequality in the U.S. Stiglitz writes that, in light of recent turmoil and protests in Egypt, Libya and other oppressive regimes, growing income inequality in the U.S. should be a concern for the rich as much as the rest of us.
  • Finally, Sharon Ward posted a short video highlighting an event this week in the state Capitol that brought college students, advocates for domestic violence victims, educators and more out to deliver pie to state lawmakers.

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

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.

CEO Pay Soars While Workers’ Pay Stalls

USA Today reported last week that median CEO pay in 2010 rose 27%, compared to a 2.1% increase in the compensation of workers in private industry. (I’m guessing this is average compensation. The median compensation increase for typical workers would be lower.)

The highest-paid CEO was Viacom’s Philippe Dauman, who drew down a cool $84+ million, including $70 million in “stocks and options.”

Oppressive Regimes and Income Inequality

Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Laureate in economics, has a great essay in the latest issue of Vanity Fair explaining why excessive income inequality in the United States is a problem for everyone — rich and middle-class Americans alike.

In his essay, appropriately titled "Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%," Stiglitz explains that the top 1% of American earners take in a quarter of the nation's income each year and that they control 40% of the nation's total wealth. Just 25 years ago, the top 1% took in 12% of the nation's income and held 33% of its wealth.

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!

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