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.

In Less Than Four Days, 42,000 Pennsylvanians Will Lose Their Health Insurance

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Looking forward to the weekend? Well, thousands of hardworking Pennsylvanians may not be. This, in all likelihood, will be the last weekend they have health insurance coverage for quite some time.

The nearly 42,000 Pennsylvanians who are enrolled in adultBasic will lose their health insurance coverage as the sun sets on the state’s adultBasic health insurance program Monday. This, despite the best efforts of some lawmakers to save it!

Beware of Misinformation Campaigns

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The battle over collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin has included claims that public servants in that state are overpaid.  However, employing techniques that economists have used for decades, Jeffrey Keefe finds in an Economic Policy Institute paper that:

On an annual basis, full‐time state and local workers and school employees are undercompensated by 8.2% in Wisconsin, in comparison to otherwise similar private‐sector workers.

And what about here in Pennsylvania?

Like We Said, Policymakers Are Focusing on the Wrong Deficit

New York Times economist David Leonhardt makes two simple points in today’s paper that we made in our release last week underscoring the need for more action to create jobs.

First, output in the United States has rebounded thanks to the Recovery Act, surpassing its level before the recession. The Act, according to our estimates, saved 400,000 jobs in Pennsylvania alone.

Save adultBasic, Faith Community Tells Governor Corbett

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Watch a 10-minute clip of highlights from today's faith community press conference.

230 faith community leaders in Pennsylvania added their voice to the growing chorus in support of presesrving the state's adultBasic health insurance program at the state Capitol today.

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