Why Philly Needs the Sugary Drink Tax

As we move closer to a City Council vote on the sugary drink tax proposal, I want to offer some final thoughts about the idea and correct some misapprehensions about it:

Finally: Waste, Fraud, and Abuse!!!

After ribbing Senator Wagner and his fellow members of the taxpayer caucus for not understanding the basics of budgeting, I want to acknowledge that they did come up with a really good idea today.

It appears that the Pennsylvania State Police take two sheets of paper to print tickets. Some intrepid investigator discovered that they could get the whole thing on one sheet of paper if they printed in landscape rather than portrait mode. At 8 cents per sheet of paper for the 542,000 tickets they print, that’s a savings of $43,384.

Make Believe Budgeting in Harrisburg

I’ve been doing political advocacy for over ten years and have been a teacher and writer about politics for a lot longer. I don’t surprise easily. But what I saw today at the press conference at which Senator Scott Wagner and the “Taxpayer’s Caucus” presented their three billion dollars in proposed budget cuts, left me almost speechless.

U.S. Department of Labor Scores a Victory for Working People

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On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) raised the salary threshold under which working people can earn overtime pay.  Under the new rule, effective December 1 of this year, most salaried workers – including managers and professionals – making less than $47,476 will now be entitled to overtime pay (most charitable non-profits will be unaffected by this rule change - read more here). 

PBPC Research Prompts Senators to Introduce Tax Fairness Legislation

Something new and unusual happened in Harrisburg today. Senators Art Haywood, Vincent Hughes and Jay Costa put forward an idea that actually could help resolve the pressing fiscal cliff we face this year, and at the same time could make our tax system more progressive.

Despite partisan differences, three goals are more or less shared by everyone in Harrisburg. While their top priority may differ, for the most part, legislators all say they want:

1. to close the $1.8 billion structural deficit;

2. to spend more on education;

Advocacy Update: Hunger Transcends Political Boundaries

Last month, the state’s 2015-16 budget impasse finally came to an end --- more than nine months after it started. But there was little time to celebrate. As quickly as one budget debate ended, a new one began.

Legislators and the governor now must begin in earnest to craft and finalize a 2016-17 budget. They have two months to do it. The state’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30 each year, and May and June are the most critical months for finding consensus.

Need a data-driven break from the election? Let's talk education funding...

For the education data geeks out there (admit it, you're probably one) here is data comparing new classroom funding (in budget geek speak that's the basic education subsidy plus the ready to learn block grant) by school district as proposed under the bi-partisan budget framework versus the same funding under the final budget for 2015-16.

KRC/PBPC's Insider News 4/22/16

April 22, 2016

The Insider News is a weekly look at the work of the Keystone Research Center and the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.

Global...and Pennsylvania...Fight for $15 Still Growing This 4-15

Today is April 15, also known as "4-15."

In 300 cities in 40 countries today fast food workers are driving home the point that "McJobscost us all." Pennsylvania workers in multiple service industries are now very active in the Fight for $15.

For example, nearly 5,00 nursing home workers at 42 nursing facilities in Pennsylvania recently achieved contracts that lift their wages to $15 per hour over time. KRC reports released two days before "4-15" in 2015 and on November 9 made the case for this increase.

Just a couple of weeks ago, UPMC in Pittsburgh announced it will increase wages to $15 per hour as noted in this KRC statement and this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette column quoting KRC.

Airport workers in Philadelphia, fast-food workers, security guards and janitors have also been active and achieving victories in the Pennsylvania Fight for $15...with organizing efforts building in home care and child care.

Check out this graphic (also copied below) from the Center for American Progress, which explains how important the "and a union" part of the phrase "Fight for $15 and a union is." You see, $15 per hour in the near term would be a massive gain that drastically expands the number of living-wage jobs. But "and a union" — unions that once again represent at least 35% of the workforce anchored service industries that can't relocate — would make tens of millions of McJobs part of the middle class permanently.

Hats off to the Fight for $15 workers in Pennsylvania and across the country for helping to save America from itself and lighting the fire that eliminate the scourge of inequality from our job market, or political system, our communities, and our schools.

End Harrisburg’s School Funding Hunger Games

Over the past five years, Harrisburg has mastered the art of pitting school districts, parents, and students against each other in order to draw attention away from the damage their policies and the lack of adequate state education funding have inflicted on children, schools, and communities throughout the Commonwealth.

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