Consumer Protection

PA Deregulation Bill Will Hurt Rural Broadband Access and Increase Phone Rates

There has been a wave of deregulation bills introduced in statehouses across the country in recent years, and the latest in Pennsylvania is targeting landline telephone service. The plan could end up limiting access to broadband service in rural parts of the commonwealth and sharply increasing telephone rates.

Third and State This Week: Budget Analysis, Food Security Danger, Unremarkable Private Job Growth & Payday Lenders

This week at Third and State, we blogged about the state budget, the danger facing America's leading food security program, Pennsylvania's unremarkable private-sector job performance, and a gambit by payday lenders that backfired.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On state budget and taxes, Sharon Ward shared the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's detailed analysis of the 2013-14 budget, and Michael Wood explained that tax changes enacted along with the budget made some steps toward reform but weigh the state's Tax Code down with more special interest tax breaks.
  • On the federal budget, Sharon Ward wrote that legislation separating agricultural programs from nutrition supports funded through the farm bill poses a threat to food assistance for millions of struggling parents, children, and vulnerable citizens.
  • On jobs, Stephen Herzenberg blogged that Pennsylvania’s private-sector job growth has almost stalled since about a year into Governor Corbett's term.
  • On consumer protection, Mark Price explained how payday lenders won few friends in the state Senate when they convinced House leaders to insert language into a must-pass Fiscal Code bill stating it was the intent of House and Senate leaders to enact payday legislation in the fall.

STATE BUDGET RESOURCES:

Payday Lenders Make Few Friends in PA Senate

Payday lenders convinced state House Republican leaders to slip a line into a Fiscal Code bill needed to implement aspects of the new state budget stating that it was the "intent" of House and Senate Republican leaders to pass legislation legalizing high-interest payday loans in Pennsylvania.

Third and State This Week: Payday Lending Debt Trap, Medicaid Rally, Pensions, State Budget, and More

This week at Third and State, we blogged about the payday lending debt trap, a big rally at the Capitol in support of expanding Medicaid coverage in Pennsylvania, 10 reasons Governor Corbett's pension plan will cost taxpayers more, the latest with the state budget, Pennsylvania's housing market, and more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On payday lending, Mark Price wrote about a Senate bill that will open the door to payday lenders to come to Pennsylvania and charge triple-digit annual interest rates on short-term loans.
  • On health care, Chris Lilienthal blogged about a Capitol rally that brought out hundreds of people from across Pennsylvania to put some faces (and stories) to the ongoing debate over expanding Medicaid coverage in Harrisburg.
  • On the state budget, Sharon Ward wrote about superintendents from cuts-ravaged urban school districts coming to town to press for more education funding, among other happenings in the Capitol this week.
  • On pensions, Stephen Herzenberg shared the Keystone Research Center's top 10 reasons Governor Corbett's pension plan will dig a deeper hole for taxpayers.
  • On housing, Mark Price shared some charts on the Pennsylvania housing market.

IN OTHER NEWS:

  • Congratulations to the honorees of the 2013 Keystone Research Center Annual Awards Dinner: Henry Nicholas, president of the National Union of Hospital & Health Care Employees, who received the Sol Hoffman Award, and the Restaurant Opportunities Center United, which received the Susan C. Eaton Award.
  • Read the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's media statement on the House passage of a 2013-14 budget bill and get the latest budget news here.
  • Read a fact sheet on the Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania.
  • Read a memo to lawmakers from the Keystone Research Center on how transitioning new public employees to 401(k)-type retirement plans will cost taxpayers more. Read KRC's policy brief on how public pensions inject millions of dollars into local economies across Pennsylvania. Learn more about public pension reform here.
  • Learn more about education in Pennsylvania with data on student enrollment, school funding and more.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR:

Another Day Older and Deeper in Debt

Last week, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee in a narrow vote approved Senate Bill 975, opening the door to thousands of predatory payday lenders to come to Pennsylvania and charge fees on short-term loans that equal an annual interest rate of over 300% on a typical two-week payday loan.

Third and State Recap: State Budget News, Payday Lending, Pensionomics, Education Funding & More

Over the past two weeks at Third and State, we blogged about the latest on the state budget and education funding, May's revenue report, and why policymakers must prioritize investments in Pennsylvania's future over new tax cuts. We also wrote about how public pensions inject millions into local economies and why payday lending, by any name, is still a debt trap.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On state budget and taxes, Sharon Ward blogged about the state House Republicans' 2013-14 budget plan and shared a video of her appearance this week on the Pennsylvania Cable Network where she made the case for closing tax loopholes, delaying new tax cuts, and restoring funding to schools and human services in the next budget. Kate Atkins blogged about school district and county officials from across the state who came to Harrisburg this week with a message for state lawmakers: prioritize investments in our schools, county health services, and infrastructure over new tax cuts. And Michael Wood wrote that while General Fund revenues are ahead of estimates in May, this year’s revenue surplus is unlikely to reach the $232 million forecasted back in February.
  • On public pensions, Stephen Herzenberg blogged about a Keystone Research Center report showing that pension benefits earned by retired teachers, first responders and public health workers inject millions of dollars into regional and local economies across Pennsylvania.
  • On payday lending, Mark Price wrote about Senate legislation that would legalize predatory payday loans with annual interest rates above 300%. Payday loans are described in the bill as "micro loans," but as Mark writes, payday lending, by any name, takes advantage of people in financial distress.
  • Finally, on education, we posted a video from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's May 28 webinar laying out the facts on state cuts to education in recent years.

IN OTHER NEWS:

MARK YOUR CALENDAR:

  • Time is running out. Join the Keystone Research Center and Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center on Thursday, June 13 for our Annual Awards Dinner at the Hilton Harrisburg. Learn more and purchase tickets.
  • Join the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center on Tuesday, June 18 from 4 to 5 p.m. for a webinar highlighting the latest on the 2013-14 state budget. Learn more and register to participate.

Third and State This Week: Paying the Boss to Work, a Payday Lending Poll, and Austin Powers on Tax Incentives

This week at Third and State, we blogged about the problems with a "pay your boss to work" tax credit plan, what the Austin Powers movies can teach us about economic development, the gas industry taking on Pennsylvania charities, an online payday lending poll, and more!

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On state tax policy, Michael Wood noted the top 10 reasons to vote no on a bill that would allow many Pennsylvania employers to pocket the state income taxes paid by new employees.
  • On taxes and economic development, Mark Price channeled his vast knowledge of Austin Powers' quotes to comment on an effort by a food corporation to secure a property tax abatement for a meat repackaging plant in Lower Allen Township.
  • On Marcellus Shale, Stephen Herzenberg wrote about the need for reliable data on natural gas drilling after the Marcellus Shale Coalition criticized the funding priorities of certain Pennsylvania foundations.
  • On payday lending, Chris Lilienthal urged readers to vote in an online poll asking Pennsylvanians if payday lenders should be able to open storefronts in the state.
  • And on jobs and the economy, Mark Price chronicled the many informative responses debunking former GE CEO Jack Welch's suggestion on Twitter that the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics altered September's jobs report.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Add Your Voice to Those Opposing Payday Lending in PA

A bill to legalize high-interest payday loans in Pennsylvania stalled this week after a bipartisan group of state senators took a look at the plan and said no way. The Harrisburg Patriot-News was on top of the story:

Third and State This Week: Court Halts Voter ID Law, Changing the Subject on Payday Lending and Paying the Boss to Work

This week at Third and State, we blogged about a court decision halting enforcement of the Voter ID Law in the November election, an effort to change the subject on payday lending, a report on rising student debt, a lawsuit against the state to restore General Assistance and much more!

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On voter ID, we highlighted a statement from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (PBPC) on a Commonwealth Court decision halting enforcement of the Voter ID Law in the November election. Chris Lilienthal also highlighted MSNBC's coverage of PBPC's recent report on the state's flawed implementation of the Voter ID Law.
  • On payday lending, Mark Price wrote about a recent state Senate hearing on the subject and why changing the subject doesn't make high-interest payday lending any better an idea in Pennsylvania.
  • On education, Jamar Thrasher blogged about a Pew Research Center report on the growing burden of student debt especially among the lowest-income students.
  • On jobs, Mark Price explained how the story of a Bucks County manufacturer who is finding it difficult to recruit workers made him think of a joke about parrots and economists. He also broke down the employment picture in Allentown.
  • On state tax policy, we shared a video from Reuters exploring the problems with programs that allow certain businesses to keep the income taxes paid by employees. The Pennsylvania House is considering a similar program.
  • On public welfare, Mark Price blogged about a lawsuit aimed at restoring Pennsylvania's General Assistance program.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Third and State This Week: Confusion About Voter ID, Payday Lending in the Senate and Poverty-wage Jobs

This week at Third and State, we blogged about a new report on the Voter ID Law, a bill to legalize high-interest payday lending now before the state Senate, poverty-wage jobs in Pennsylvania, and much more!

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On voter ID, Sharon Ward blogged about a new report from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center on confusion surrounding the new law among PennDOT staff and voters alike. You can check out PBPC's full report here.
  • On payday lending, Mark Price wrote about legislation before the Senate to legalize payday loans with annual interest rates of 369%. He also explained that the writer of a letter to the editor in the Patriot-News supportive of the bill forgot to mention her group represents payday lenders.
  • On economic development, Mark Price wrote about local incentives in a Tennessee town intended to lure web developers.
  • On poverty, Mark Price reported that about 24% of Pennsylvania workers earned poverty wages in 2011.
  • On monetary policy, Mark Price highlighted two views on what the Federal Reserve can do to boost the economy. 
  • On education, Mark Price shared an Allentown Morning Call column offering a midterm report card on Governor Corbett's education policies.
  • And in a Friday Funny, we bring you an article by the satirical newspaper The Onion on how voter suppression in Pennsylvania isn't as fun as it used to be. 

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

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