Mexican Trade Deficit Costs Pa. 26,000 Jobs Since 1994

Our friends at the Economic Policy Institute have a new report tracking the number of lost or displaced jobs as a result of the United State's trade deficit with Mexico.

In 1993, before the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) took effect, the U.S. had a $1.6 billion trade surplus with Mexico, which supported 29,400 U.S. jobs. Since then, imports from Mexico have grown much faster than U.S. exports, resulting in large trade deficits that have displaced 682,900 jobs nationwide since 1994. The trade deficit with Mexico currently totals $97.2 billion.

For Pennsylvania, this trade deficit has cost us more than 26,000 jobs since 1994. That puts us in eighth place among the 50 states in the raw number of jobs displaced and 20th as a share of total employment.

Crowd of Thousands Rally for a Responsible State Budget

A crowd of thousands rallied on the steps of the Pennsylvania Capitol Tuesday to call on lawmakers and the Governor to enact a responsible state budget — one that closes tax loopholes and ends special tax breaks before making deep cuts to schools, colleges, prekindergarten, health care and services for victims of abuse.

Revenue Analysis Goes Well Beyond Taxes Paid by Drillers

Last week, the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center released a report outlining the favorable tax treatment enjoyed by the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania. The report was intended to provide an understanding of the actual taxes paid by the companies that would be directly impacted by a drilling tax.

Federal incentives cut the state and federal tax bills of drillers, and unlike in most energy-rich states, oil and gas reserves are exempt from property taxes in Pennsylvania. The report cited Department of Revenue data showing that oil and gas drillers paid only $38.8 million in state business taxes in 2008.

This week, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue is out with its own analysis claiming that the drilling industry is paying a lot more than that. But as I explained in a media statement today:

The Department of Revenue’s new analysis makes an apples to oranges comparison of the taxes paid by companies engaged in natural gas drilling.

Strong April Puts Pennsylvania's Fiscal Surplus at $506 Million

In some very good news for Pennsylvania’s budget, the Commonwealth saw its fiscal-year surplus grow to $506 million last month.

Better-than-expected collections in April – the second largest revenue month of the year – will likely position the Commonwealth to end the 2010-11 fiscal year with a significant surplus. This could offset some of the deep cuts to K-12 education, colleges, health care and human services that were proposed in the Governor’s 2011-12 budget.

Third and State This Week: Zombies, Millionaire Taxes and Gas Drillers

This week, we blogged about New Jersey's millionaire tax, taxes and Marcellus Shale drillers, zombies and much more. 


  • On state budget and taxes, Steve Herzenberg explains that a millionaire tax didn't chase the rich out of New Jersey. In light of that, Steve writes, Pennsylvania should consider enacting a higher tax rate on unearned income, which would mostly impact top earners in Pennsylvania. Kate Atkins, meanwhile, posts a short video of a Berks County rally for a better state budget.
  • On the Marcellus Shale, Sharon Ward invites each natural gas drilling company in Pennsylvania to release details on the state and local business taxes it pays. And Chris Lilienthal shares concerns about Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati's proposed local impact fee on Marcellus Shale drillers.
  • Finally, Mark Price fights zombies who believe that only the rich pay taxes.

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

Advocates Call for Better Budget at Reading Rally

About 100 Reading area residents rallied outside the Berks County Services Center Wednesday to call on lawmakers to close tax loopholes and end special tax breaks before making deep cuts to schools, colleges, and services for people with disabilities.

The event, sponsored by Better Choices for Pennsylvania and the CLEAR Coalition, featured Mike Morrill of Keystone Progress as emcee. Keystone Progress put together a short video to highlight the best parts of the event.

Concerns Raised About Sen. Scarnati's Local Impact Fee

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Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati today unveiled his long-awaited proposal to enact a local impact fee on Marcellus Shale gas drillers in Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center was among a group of advocates to raise some concerns about the plan. While we give Senator Scarnati credit for taking a step forward on this important issue, the plan lets drillers off the hook too easily and provides little to no benefit for most Pennsylvanians.

Obama Releases Birth Certificate, Now Gas Drillers Should Disclose Taxes

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President Obama today released his full birth certificate from the state of Hawaii in an effort to put to rest unending speculation about his American citizenship.

In that spirit, we’d like to invite each natural gas drilling company in Pennsylvania to release details on the state and local business taxes it pays in Pennsylvania.

This request comes on the heels of a new report we put out this week, which found natural gas drillers are paying very little state and local taxes in Pennsylvania. The report examined state Department of Revenue data from 2008 and found that gas drillers paid only $38.8 million in business taxes that year, despite industry claims that drillers are paying hundreds of millions of dollars in Pennsylvania taxes.

Millionaire Tax Didn't Chase the Rich From Jersey, So Why Not a Higher Tax Rate on Pa.'s Top Earners?

Anti-tax advocates maintain that higher tax rates on the wealthy lead to millionaire flight. But a study of a 2004 “millionaire tax” in New Jersey shows that, in fact, the rich don’t move to avoid higher taxes.

The new study was written by sociologists at Stanford and Princeton and published in The National Tax Journal. Economist Robert Frank reported on it in The Wall Street Journal, writing that the study “provides some of the most detailed evidence yet that so-called millionaire taxes have little effect on the movements of millionaires as a whole.”

Zombie Ideas: Only The Rich Pay Taxes

A big part of our work is fighting zombie ideas — claims that don't actually have empirical support but just keep getting repeated over and over again.  On Friday and again this morning, Paul Krugman let loose his wicked cricket bat on one we hear repeated ad nauseam by Harrisburg pundits.

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