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

This week. we blogged about the upcoming two-year anniversary of the Recovery Act, President Obama's budget plan, a few hundred Valentine's Day messages for Governor Corbett, sales tax loopholes that only Amazon.com could love, and much more!

In case you missed it:

  • On the state budget, Michael Wood detailed Amazon's foot-stomping response to efforts by states to close a sales tax loophole that gives the online retailer an unfair competitive edge over other retailers. (Spoiler alert: The brick-and-mortar stores are none too happy about it!) Mike also shined some light on Pennsylvania's "conservative" debt levels and explained that Pennsylvania's debt service payments have long been low — between 3% and 4% of the state budget.
  • On health care, Chris Lilienthal shared some of the Valentines that Governor Corbett received this week from Pennsylvanians asking him to have a heart and save adultBasic.
  • On the federal budget, Chris highlighted some analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on President Obama's budget proposal for the 2012 Fiscal Year. Mark Price, meanwhile, shared a video clip of Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Sachs discussing the federal budget and noting that both parties have the wrong priorities by cutting services vital to working- and middle-class families.
  • Finally, on the economy, Mark Price takes note of the upcoming two-year anniversary of the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Mark also blogged that policymakers are focused on the wrong deficit — Main Street America is a lot more concerned about a deficit in jobs and wages than they are about the federal fiscal deficit.

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

We Need More Action on Jobs and Wages

The evidence is indisputable: aggressive action by the federal government to create jobs worked. 

As of December 2010, federal action on the economy saved 400,000 Pennsylvania jobs and prevented a rise in the state’s unemployment rate to 15%.

One Thing Pennsylvania Isn't Leading Other States in — Debt

Debt is a hot topic in Harrisburg these days, but often lost in the rhetoric is just how low Pennsylvania's level of debt is.

In our latest installment of February Fiscal Facts, we follow up an earlier report on Pennsylvania's debt service payments with a look at the state's outstanding debt situation.

The 2nd Anniversary of the Recovery Act

February 17th is the second anniversary of the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).  I will be back later today to discuss our release of updated estimates of the regional impact of all federal action in the wake of the recession, including the passage of ARRA, but in the meantime, I wanted to share two figures on ARRA. 

Jeffrey Sachs on the Federal Budget

Jeffrey SachsJeffrey D. Sachs, an economist and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, discusses the Democratic and Republican federal budget proposals.  He argues both proposals focus on the wrong priorities by cutting services vital to working- and middle-class families as well as cutting programs aimed at fighting climate change.

Watch the video here. (Sorry, we can't embed it on the blog.)

Hat tip to Penn Action's Robin Stelly for sharing this video.

Living within Our Means

If I were to ask you how much of the state budget goes toward paying off debt, what would you say? 10%, 30%, 50%?

Try between 3% and 4%.

A Valentine’s Day Message to Governor Corbett

Posted in:

I don't know how Governor Tom Corbett celebrated Valentine's Day on Monday, but I do know that he got a lot more Valentines than I did.

More than 700 people sent the Governor Valentines asking him to have a heart and preserve the state's adultBasic health insurance program. Dozens more sent the Governor the same message on his Facebook page.

Amazon Takes Its Ball and Goes Home over Sales Tax Bill

According to an article in Monday’s State Tax Notes (subscription required), Amazon has decided to shutter a warehouse facility in Texas rather than pay a $269 million sales tax bill issued by the Texas Comptroller. Lost in this foot-stomping exercise are 119 warehouse jobs and any future plans of expanding in the Lone Star State.

The Texas business community is up in arms about this, but not for the reasons you would think. The President of the Texas Retailers Association said in a statement:

"We sincerely regret that Amazon's irresponsible action appears to be resulting in 119 Texans being told their jobs are being terminated. However, to allow Amazon's current practices to continue is blatantly unfair and injurious to the 1.9 million employees of Main Street Texas retailers who faithfully collect and remit sales taxes to the Comptroller."

The dispute is a common one between Amazon and the states. Amazon claims it has no legal right or duty to collect sales tax from its customers, but states like Texas, Colorado, North Carolina and New York are fighting back. Pennsylvania hasn’t joined the pack — yet.

President Obama Unveils Federal Budget Plan - Updated

President Obama unveiled his federal budget plan for the 2012 Fiscal Year this morning. In its initial analysis, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes that the plan would shrink the federal deficit "very significantly as a share of the economy over the course of this decade."

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

This week, we blogged about job growth in Pennsylvania, what message President Obama should send to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, lessons to learn from other state's fiscal woes and a whole lot more.

In case you missed it:

  • On the economy, Steve Herzenberg explained how Pennsylvania was a big winner in job performance for 2010, while New Jersey was the "biggest loser." Steve also blogged on what message President Obama should be sending to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and weighed in on the nation's "Swiss Cheese" tax system.
  • On the state budget, Chris Lilienthal highlighted another edition of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's Fiscal Facts, and talked about lessons to learn from other states' budget challenges.
  • On jobs and unemployment, Mark Price wrote that for the long-term unemployed, the jobs just aren't there. Mark also blogged this week on strengthening the middle class and debunking bogus research on upward mobility and income 

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

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