Reflections on the Election and the White Working Class...and Some Links Worth Reading

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Like many of you, I've spent the last 10 days reflecting on the Presidential election and devouring countless commentaries. The end of this blog includes some links I found helpful.

On The Inaction by State Senate to Fund Unemployment Compensation Call Centers

Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center Director Marc Stier made the following statement after the state Senate failed to vote for additional funding for the Department of Labor and Industry’s unemployment compensation call centers during its only scheduled post-election session day:

IFO Report: Deficits Now and In The Future

Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center Director Marc Stier made the following statement following the Independent Fiscal Office release of their Five Year Economic and Budget Outlook:

In Election's Wake: Time to Judge Elected Officials on Whether They Deliver an Economy Less Rigged to Benefit Political Insiders

What should Pennsylvanians and Americans take away from the Presidential election? While fully digesting Trump's razor-thin victory will take time, national exit polls show that the President-elect won several groups by large margins: white non-college and rural voters, those who view the economy as fair or poor, and those whose family financial situation has worsened.

Advice for the Voting Booth: Consider Who Will Support the Agenda to Raise Pennsylvania's Pay?

The day before the election, Pennsylvanians who go to the polls tomorrow have one last chance to consider the choices they will make.

Since Keystone Research Center is an economic think thank focused on the middle class, our efforts to inform voters have highlighted two issues: how the middle class is doing; and the policies that would benefit the middle class going forward.

SWPA 2016: College No Longer Guarantees Rising Wages—Degree Holders Need Agenda to Raise PA’s Pay Too

The post below is one of a series of posts about specific trends examined in the recently-released annual edition of The State of Working Pennsylvania.

We’ve already laid out how Pennsylvania men without a college degree have not shared in Pennsylvania's economic gains over the past few decades and how women without a college degree are still playing catch up. What about Pennsylvanians with a college degree, though?

For years, having a bachelor’s degree was the key to unlocking jobs with rising wages. Up until 2000, male college graduates in Pennsylvania fared better than those without a four-year college degree when it came to increasing wages. Hourly earnings climbed for white and black men with at least a bachelor’s degree by 23 percent and 14 percent respectively between 1979-81 and 2000-02.

On HB 1885 — The Sanctuary Bill

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Legislation rushed to the finish line in an election year is notorious for being both badly crafted and motivated by less than pristine motives. And that certainly goes for HB 1885, the anti-sanctuary city bill passed by the House recently and currently under consideration in the Senate this week. 

There is a lot wrong with the bill, starting with the intention of its sponsors to appeal to the anti-immigrant voters whose ire has been inflamed by Donald Trump and continuing on to its likely consequence of leading to racial profiling that undermines police-community relationships, and thus effective policing, in (documented and undocumented) immigrant communities.

But here I want to focus on the potential economic costs of the bill to the counties and cities of Pennsylvania—costs that have been barely considered in the fast-track legislative debate on it. The House Fiscal Note on the bill does not even try to identify, let alone estimate, these potential costs.

Against HB 530 — Once More With Feeling

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HB 530, a revision of the laws that govern charter schools, has reared its ugly head again. We continue to oppose it.

School districts in Pennsylvania contain a mix of traditional public schools and charter schools. Some local school districts want to add charters schools. Many do not. All of them should be empowered to evaluate the best way to educate students in their respective districts. 

Unfortunately, provisions in HB530 will remove much of the supervisory and decision-making authority from local school districts in every corner of the state. Since charter schools receive funding from local school districts, the creation of new seats in charter schools without school board supervision and control diminishes the ability of school districts to establish and manage their budgets. That could result in the underfunding of traditional schools or significant local tax increases. That is why we oppose this legislation, which that permits charter schools to enroll new students, add grade levels, and recruit students from outside the school district without the approval of the local school board.

Rep. Brad Roae Compares School Board Members to Hitler

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This week, in a Facebook discussion with a person who seems to be one of his constituents, Representative Brad Roae (R-Crawford/Erie) felt it was appropriate to compare school board members in Pennsylvania blaming charter schools for the financial difficulties of their districts to Adolf Hitler blaming Jews for “everything that was wrong with the world.”

I’m not sure whether I should be more offended as a Jew or as a policy analyst by Representative Roae’s remark.

Congratulations to Board Member Jordan Yeager on Act 13 Decision

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In a win for environmentalists and municipalities, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last month struck down a number of provisions to the state’s oil and gas law, Act 13. Keystone Research Center board member Jordan Yeager was the attorney who argued for the towns and environmental groups involved in the challenging the law.

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