This was a big week for budget analysts as Gov. Wolf delivered his first budget address and presented his first state budget on Tuesday. He gave us plenty to dig into with an ambitious $29.9 billion proposal to fill the existing $2.3 billion deficit while also restoring $1 billion in education cuts, reducing school property taxes by $3.8 billion beginning in 2016, and funding a $1.75 billion job growth initiative.
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center was busy producing immediate analysis and infographics for the media, advocates and legislators, and rapidly tweeting them out and posting them on our website. See our Summary and Highlights of Gov. Wolf’s 2015-16 Budget Proposal.
Needing an economic turnaround … PBPC’s media statement on the budget explained why Pennsylvania needs a bold budget that invests in education, infrastructure, jobs and skills: the state’s prior cuts-only approach left Pennsylvania 50th in job growth since January 2011, 46th in revenue growth, and resorting to one-time budget fixes that have led to repeated downgrading of the state’s bond rating.
Leaving the job market … Offering further evidence of the state’s need for an economic turnaround, Keystone Research Center Executive Director Stephen Herzenbergblogged this week that Pennsylvania’s declining unemployment rate isn’t such good news because it results from more Pennsylvanians giving up on finding jobs and leaving the labor force. If the labor force had not declined, Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate would still be 6.9 percent. Read more here.
Explaining the budget … PBPC Research Director Mike Wood was a guest Wednesday on WHYY’s Radio Times show on “Unpacking Gov. Wolf’s budget address.” You can listen to it here. Newsworks ran a story quoting Mike about the governor’s plan to increase the sales tax. Even conservative media organizations watchdog.org and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review came calling for budget analysis. And Friday morning Mike gave a presentation on Gov. Wolf’s education budget proposal before the Education Policy & Leadership Center’s new class of fellows.