Three cheers for Tara Murtha, journalist and associate communications director at Women’s Law Project. Tara pointed out in a May 7th editorial that the media, in its zeal to quote “both sides” of an issue, can “unwittingly amplify well-funded propaganda machines.”
Tara had in mind the Employment Policies Institute, which claims that thousands of jobs will be lost if the minimum wage is increased. The group was identified in recent Pennsylvania news stories on the minimum wage as a “nonprofit think tank.” In fact, the group is run by a public relations firm that also represents the National Restaurant Association.
The news stories were prompted by Keystone Research Center’s (KRC’s) new report on the benefits of raising the minimum wage. Murtha concludes that “research findings published by one corporate-funded business-interest advocacy group are not equivalent to research published by the Keystone Research Center.”
Telling communities’ shale tale … On May 7 in Bucks County, a KRC/Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (PBPC) team including Jeff Garis, Stephen Herzenberg, and Jan Jarrett presented findings from KRC/PBPC research showing increases in crime, STDs, rents and truck-related traffic fatalities in Pennsylvania counties experiencing the heaviest drilling. These costs give lawmakers one more reason to end the gas industry’s “free pass” by enacting a severance tax. To read about the Bucks forum and watch a short video of Steve click here. On the need for a severance tax, check out Steve’s letter to the editor.
Bucks County Courier Times
Unveiling the PA Skills2Compete coalition … At the Pennsylvania Workforce Development Association conference on May 7, Steve told attendees about a new coalition coming together to fight for the workforce investments in the governor’s proposed budget, including $10 million for Industry Partnerships to identify and meet common skill needs within sectors. To become part of the new coalition, email email@example.com.
Plugging the budget hole with a leaky stopper … The PA Independent quoted PBPC Research Director Michael Wood on the temporary nature of the state’s April revenue surge from a one-time windfall of unclaimed property.
Raise the wage now! … Mark Price, KRC labor economist, continued his media barnstorming in favor of raising the PA minimum wage. He published an op-ed in the Patriot News, testified before the Senate Labor and Industry Committee, and appeared on The Rick Smith Show.
Fighting for fair funding of schools … On May 2, PBPC Outreach and Engagement Director Jeff Garis participated in a fair education funding forum in Allentown hosted by the NAACP, one of seven forums across the state at which PBPC is presenting information on Pennsylvania’s gaping disparities in public school funding. PBPC and the NAACP are two of more than 50 organizations in the Campaign for Fair Education Funding.
The story of outsized compensation is a private sector one not a public sector one … Steve Herzenberg was quoted in the Patriot-News/Pennlive.com’s package of stories this week on public pensions that top $100,000 a year. Steve cautioned that "we need to be careful in the course of addressing the top-end pensions we don't at the same time end up cutting very modest pensions that people need for a secure retirement." Steve also told the Patriot-News that, while most public pension dollars go to people with modest pensions, retirement savings in private 401(k) savings plans are much more heavily tilted to the top end. (In fact, the median savings in private savings accounts is $14,000 while the Top 1% of accounts average $1.3 million – see p. 19 in this report from the “good EPI” (Economic Policy Institute).) Maybe these points will be used in the Patriot’s follow-up package of stories on retirement inequality in the private sector!
Giving the gift of tax credits this Mother’s Day … Looking for a way to give all working moms a gift for Mother’s Day? Read Mike Wood’s latest blog post on Third and State about how you can help preserve key provisions of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.
Coming soon … Don’t forget to buy your ticket, if you haven’t already, to KRC’s Annual Awards Reception on June 1 at the Hilton Harrisburg. We’ll be honoring Mike Crossey, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, and recognizing Sharon Ward, first director of PBPC.