Olbermann on Wisconsin and Unions

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Keith Olbermann has posted on his blog a powerful story that conveys one of the most critical roles that unions play. A quick excerpt:

... 'The Union' is the only protection you have when the drunken boss comes in to fire you because he doesn’t like you ...

More important perhaps, 'The Union' represents the good faith of the nation.

In Case You Missed It: Third and State Blog This Week

This week on Third and State, we blogged about the upcoming state budget, the end of adultBasic, a questionable business climate ranking, and much more!

In case you missed it:

  • On the state budget and the economy, Sharon Ward shared a podcast featuring her and Jan Jarrett of PennFuture discussing the state budget principles that will create jobs and ensure the long-term economic success of the Commonwealth. Mike Wood, meanwhile, challenged comments made this week by Budget Secretary Charles Zogby that Pennsylvania's budget woes are due to overspending. Mike points out that nearly every state in the nation — low-spending and high-spending alike — is facing a budget shortfall this year thanks to a recession-driven decline in revenue collections.
  • On the economy, Mark Price blogged about the problems with a new business climate ranking from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that seems to favor states with lower wages and less human development. Mark also shared a funny but informative video of the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart discussing pay on Wall Street and for teachers. 
  • On health care, Chris Lilienthal highlighted a New York Times story on the end of Pennsylvania's adultBasic health insurance program this week and what that means for the more than 41,000 Pennsylvanians who lost their coverage.
  • Finally, on jobs and wages, Stephen Herzenberg noted that The Economist agrees with the Keystone Research Center on one thing: people don’t take government jobs to get rich.

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

For Richer and Poorer - Teachers and Wall Street

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I highly recommend this funny but informative video of the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart discussing pay on Wall Street and for teachers.  

Friday Podcast: Principles for a Better State Budget

Next week, Governor Corbett will unveil his first state budget. It will outline a spending plan for the next fiscal year, but really it sets a course for the Commonwealth's economy and priorities for years to come.

So it is critical that the Governor and Legislature take a forward-looking approach to this budget with a focus on job creation and long-term economic success.

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and PennFuture teamed up to produce a new report setting forth key budget principles to promote a more prosperous Pennsylvania.

What's Good for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Isn't So Good For You

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a new report on Wednesday calling for the rollback of a wide range of employment regulations that it argues lead to a poor business climate in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The report ranked Pennsylvania's business climate as poor because of relatively strict limitations in the Commonwealth on child labor, overly generous rules that protect parents from losing their job if they take leave to care for a child, and overly broad prohibitions against employment-related discrimination and harassment (here is the list of states and their rankings). 

What the End of adultBasic Means

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On Tuesday, more than 41,000 Pennsylvanians lost their adultBasic health insurance and joined the ranks of the uninsured. The New York Times marked the occasion with a report that noted it was "one of the largest disenrollments in recent memory."

The Times led off its coverage with a look at the new normal for one adultBasic enrollee, Ken Kewley of Easton:

Do Texas, Mississippi and Indiana Have 'Spending Problems'?

Pennsylvania's new Budget Secretary Charles Zogby trotted out a familiar line at the Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon on Monday when he proclaimed that Pennsylvania "doesn't have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem."

Might Secretary Zogby be reading the wrong side of the ledger? Or do Republican Governors Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Mitch Daniels of Indiana, and Rick Perry of Texas (to name just a few) have spending problems too? After all, each of those states is facing budget woes in the wake of the Great Recession.

Actually, nearly every state in the nation is facing budget woes this year thanks to a recession-driven decline in revenue collections. So it is a revenue problem.

The Economist Agrees: People Don’t Join the Government to Get Rich

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One point we make to drive home the facts about public-sector pay is that people don’t say, “I’m leaving the private sector to go make more money.”

The Economist's Democracy in America Blog made the same observation in a recent post, Don’t join the government to get rich.

In Case You Missed It: Third and State Blog This Week

This week on Third and State, we blogged about the looming loss of health coverage for nearly 42,000 adultBasic consumers, a misinformation campaign on public- and private-sector pay, the problem with Arkansas' gas drilling tax, and much more!

In case you missed it:

  • On health care, Chris Lilienthal blogged about the faith community's call on Governor Corbett to preserve adultBasic health coverage for nearly 42,000 Pennsylvanians. Later in the week, Chris also wrote about a candlelight vigil planned for 5:30 p.m. February 28 outside the Governor's Mansion to protest the end of adultBasic.
  • On public sector wages, Mark Price urged readers, in light of the battle over collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin, to beware of misinformation campaigns on the differences in public- and private-sector pay.
  • On the natural gas drilling tax, Michael Wood explains why a prominent Arkansas Republican, two-time gubernatorial candidate, and former gas company executive wants to increase his state's natural gas drilling tax.
  • Finally, on jobs and the economy, Stephen Herzenberg cites New York Times economist David Leonhardt to explain why we need more action to create jobs.

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

Maybe the Mayans Were Right, the World Is Ending Soon ...

Prominent Arkansas Republican, two-time gubernatorial candidate, and former gas company executive Sheffield Nelson would like to increase his state's natural gas drilling tax.

Arkansas currently levies a 5% natural gas extraction tax, but it offers a discounted rate of 1.5% for the first three years (when about 40% of a well’s production takes place). On top of that, the state also allows a number of deductions in determining the taxable amount. Both of these “allowances” cut into collections pretty severely.

Citing these loopholes, Nelson is proposing a 7% flat rate, with no exemptions. He says the current tax does not fairly compensate Arkansas for the gas being extracted.

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