Getting Cheeky with Tax Data, Part 2

This is the second of a three-part series running this week on Third and State.

As we noted in Part 1 yesterday, getting cheeky with tax data is not a phenomenon limited to New York City and Washington D.C. Just a few steps south of our worldwide headquarters here at Third and State you can find Pennsylvania's own Commonwealth Foundation working hard not to be outdone by their national peers.

Getting Cheeky With Tax Data, Part 1

This is the first of a three-part series running this week on Third and State.

Last week, the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal got caught being, shall we say, less than truthful in its presentation of data on taxes.

Taking Stock of Drilling Tax Plans

As The Delaware County Daily Times reports this morning, state lawmakers believe a Marcellus Shale gas drilling tax will happen one way or another. The big question is just what it will look like.

Right now, there are four prominent plans being kicked around Harrisburg to assess a drilling tax or fee on shale gas. The plans, introduced by Rep. Greg Vitali, Sens. John Yudichak and Ted Erickson, Rep. Kate Harper, and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, have bipartisan backing.

We took up the task of wading through each plan to make sense of them and to see how they stack up against each other. Here's what we found.

Ohio's Governor Kasich Makes Clear Which Side He Is On

Our friend at the dynamic Policy Matters Ohio think tank, Amy Hanauer, has a powerful article in the most recent issue of The Nation, voicing the outrage of many in that state, as Governor John Kasich takes a state and a middle class that are down and gives them a good hard kick.

One example: The Governor recently explained his efforts to cut public-sector compensation by saying, “When I go to Bob Evans and I see a woman ... who doesn’t have any pension, and I don’t even know if she has healthcare benefits — and if she does, they’re shabby, at best — to think we’re asking public workers to do a little bit more ... it’s fairness.”

Yet what is the Governor actually doing for workers at Bob Evans? Looking to cut the state's Medicaid program that insures more than 4,700 of the chain’s employees.

Governor Kasich is also preserving a large state tax cut for the likes of Bob Evans CEO Steven Davis (with his $3.9 million annual salary). To top this off, Ohio just provided $7.7 million in incentives to keep Bob Evans headquartered in Cleveland — but did nothing to require the company to raise wages, provide even "shabby" health care, or any pension benefits.

Certainly sounds fair to me.

Third and State This Week: The State Budget, Voter ID and CEO Pay

This week, the state budget dominated with the introduction of the House Republican budget. We also weighed in on the cost of a voter ID law and the rules for CEO pay.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On the state budget, Chris Lilienthal shared a Patriot-News feature that asked the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center what a good budget would look like. Chris also wrote an initial take on the House Republican budget plan unveiled on Tuesday and later in the week highlighted the center's full analysis of that plan.
  • Sharon Ward blogged about another recent Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center report on what it would cost to implement a voter ID law in Pennsylvania.
  • Finally, on income inequality, Mark Price wrote about a change in the rules of measuring CEO pay at Wal-Mart that ensures CEO compensation keeps growing.

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

A Detailed Look at the House GOP Budget Plan

As promised earlier this week, we have a full analysis of the Pennsylvania House Republicans' 2011-12 budget proposal now available at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's web site.

The budget plan, which was introduced on Tuesday, sets spending at $27.3 billion, the initial spend number proposed by Governor Tom Corbett, and leaves untouched a $506 million accumulated revenue surplus.

Voter ID Law Costly to Taxpayers

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is considering legislation that would require every citizen to present photo identification as a condition for voting in primary and general elections.

Many recently enacted voter ID laws have been subject to legal challenges, and states considering such laws are being proactive about including safeguards that eliminate impediments to a citizen's constitutional right to vote. But it doesn't come without cost.

In a recent policy brief, the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center applied the experiences of other states with voter ID laws to estimate the cost of implementing such a law in the Commonwealth. In order to meet the requirements set forth in the legislation and avoid potential litigation, PBPC estimates the first-year costs for a voter identification program of approximately $11 million.

A Quick Take on House GOP Budget Plan

Pennsylvania House Republican leaders unveiled a state budget plan today that cuts $470 million in health and human services for vulnerable Pennsylvanians, while leaving in tact hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to schools, full-day kindergarten, Penn State and other colleges.

The plan would restore some of the deep cuts to education proposed in Governor Corbett's budget blueprint — $387 million to the 18 state-supported colleges and universities and $210 million to public schools.

How Would You Balance the State Budget?

The Patriot-News asked us at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center to offer our thoughts on alternatives to Governor Tom Corbett's proposed state budget. You can read our take at the Patriot's web site.

In a nutshell, we called for a no-increase state budget for 2011-12 — with spending at $28.1 billion, the same as in 2010-11 but less than the enacted budget for 2008-09. Such a plan will require belt-tightening but would allow us to avoid deep cuts to public schools and universities.

Rules For CEO Pay: Fail by Your Own Standard, Change the Standard

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Gretchen Morgenson of The New York Times reports that the executive compensation committee of Wal-Mart has dropped same-store sales from its metric for assesing the performance of Wal-Mart CEO Michael Duke. Morgenson writes:

Why? The change was “intended to align our performance share goals more closely with our evolving business strategy, which emphasizes productive growth, leverage and returns,” Wal-Mart said.

The timing was certainly curious. The switch came amid a sustained decline in Wal-Mart’s same-store sales, which have been falling for nearly two years. The company’s total sales, however, rose 3.4 percent in the latest fiscal year.

Shifting the goal posts meant more money for Mr. Duke in the latest fiscal year than he would have received under the old arrangement. His compensation totaled $18.7 million, more than $16 million of which was performance-based.

Changing the rules of the game to make sure that CEO compensation keeps growing is why CEO pay has balloned relative to compensation in the rest of the economy.

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