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!

On This April Fool's Day, All the News that Is Not Fit to Print!

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Our Friday Funny is brought to you this week by a band of joksters who have published a satirical take on the latest political and policy news out of Harrisburg. (Our thanks to a loyal blog reader who passed it on to us.)

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.

Why the Federal Reserve Matters

David Leonhardt of The New York Times has an article today where he explains bias in policy making at the Federal Reserve:

One group of Fed officials and watchers worries constantly about the prospect of rising inflation, no matter what the economy is doing. Some of them are haunted by the inflation of the 1970s and worry it may return at any time. Others spend much of their time with bank executives or big investors, who generally have more to lose from high inflation than from high unemployment. There is no equivalent group — at least not one as influential — that obsesses over unemployment. Instead, the other side of the debate tends to be dominated by moderates, like Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, and [former Fed governor Laurence] Meyer, who sometimes worry about inflation and sometimes about unemployment. The result is a bias that can distort the Fed’s decision-making.

Imaginative Tax Avoidance At Work

I highly recommend that you spend what's remaining of your free page views reading this New York Times article detailing tax avoidance strategies at General Electric. Here is the key quote:

The company reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States. Its American tax bill? None. In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.

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