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.

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 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.

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