Posts by stephen herzenberg

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.

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.

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.

Top Universities Sued Because...401(k)-Style Retirement Plans Provide Less Bang for the Retirement Buck

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Earlier this week, MIT, Yale, and New York University were sued because their 401(k)-style retirement plans have had excessive fees and provided employees with a bewildering array of often-low-quality investment options. The Universities, in effect, allowed the transfer of a significant share of their employees' potential retirement benefits to Wall Street.

This should be a "teachable moment," an opportunity for the robotic chorus of 401(k)-style champions — including in Pennsylvania's legislature, editorial boards, and other news media — to register that typical 401(k)-style retirements are a lousy deal for workers.

A New Approach to Accountability: What PA Schools Can Learn From the U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team

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Americans today are celebrating the astounding success of the U.S. women's gymnastics team at the summer olympics in Rio. The team won the gold medal last night, finishing nearly twice as far ahead of silver medalist Russia as Russia finished ahead of eighth place Brazil.

Believe it or not, the success of the U.S. women's gymnastics team contains within it a powerful suggestion for improving Pennsylvania's schools — a new approach to "accountability" that could result in gold-medal performances by more and more Pennsylvania children over time.

A Missed Recurring Revenue Opportunity on the Budget – Raising the Minimum Wage

This is the third in a series of blog posts assessing the 2016-17 budget and the budget negotiation process from PBPC and its allies.

A consensus exists that raising Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would generate at least tens of millions of dollars for the state budget and possibly as much as $225 million (more on the different estimates at the end of this blog). If the minimum wage were indexed for inflation, as legislative salaries already are, this would be recurring revenue. The annual boost to the minimum wage would continue to put more money in the pocket of working families each year, driving up their buying power, growing the economy, and increasing state tax collections.

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.

Gov. Wolf Should Veto Hidden Tax Increase That Could Hike Water Rates by Hundreds of Millions

As most readers of this blog know, Pennsylvania just concluded a 2015-16 budget process nine months late because the legislative majority was unwilling to raise enough revenue to begin funding schools more adequately and equitably.

In Memory of Ruth Mathews

Scrolling through my email yesterday morning I came across the sad news that Ruth Mathews (later McGrath) had passed away. Reading her obituary brought tears to my eyes -- good, rich tears.