Federal Budget and Taxes

Senate to Vote on Plan to Avert Worst of Sequester Cuts

Update: The American Family Economic Protection Act failed to get the 60 votes needed in the Senate for the bill to proceed to a final vote. The vote was 51-49 in favor of advancing the bill.

Automatic federal cuts to a broad range of crucial services are scheduled to go into effect tomorrow. These cuts will have a direct, disastrous impact on Pennsylvania families and children, and leading economists have warned of the damaging impact it will have on job creation and our economy. 

The Senate has an opportunity today to take a first step toward halting these across-the-board cuts, known as sequestration. The American Family Economic Protection Act is up for a vote; if enacted, it would delay cuts until January 2014 to give Congress time to develop a balanced approach to deficit reduction.

New Jersey Becomes Latest to Embrace Medicaid Expansion. How About It, PA?

Chris Christie is the latest to join a growing bipartisan group of governors embracing the opportunity to expand Medicaid health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The New Jersey governor announced his decision during his budget address today. The Star Ledger has more:

Third and State This Week: Minimum Wage, No Go on Lottery Privatization, State Revenue Update and a Look Ahead

This week at Third and State, we blogged about structuring the minimum wage to ensure low-wage workers are sharing in the growing economic pie, why lottery privatization was bad policy (as well as being illegal), a check in on the President's State of the Union, a look at state revenue collections in January, and more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On jobs and wages, Stephen Herzenberg wrote that a minimum wage that keeps pace with productivity growth would allow workers at all income levels to share in the expanding economic pie.
  • On privatization, Stephen Herzenberg blogged that the Attorney General's rejection of a contract to privatize the lottery is good news for Pennsylvania and the future of senior services funded by the lottery.
  • On state budget and taxes, Michael Wood provided an update on state revenue collections, which came in slightly below estimate in January but remain ahead of targets for the fiscal year.
  • Finally, Mark Price offered his take on President Obama's State of the Union address, notably the President's plan to increase investments in infrastructure and universal pre-kindergarten education, and his proposals to reduce inequality.

ON FACEBOOK:

  • Check out photos from the kick off of the "Cover the Commonwealth" Campaign. More than 150 advocates came to Harrisburg to urge Governor Corbett and lawmakers to take advantage of a federal opportunity to draw down $43 billion in funds to strengthen the state's health care economy and expand coverage to hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians.
  • Pittsburgh City Paper has some interesting infographics on the Governor's budget proposal, using analysis from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.
  • Like us on Facebook: Keystone Research CenterPennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.

A LOOK AHEAD:

  • The Pennsylvania Budget Summit is less than a week away. Register today for the Summit on February 21 in Harrisburg. It offers an in-depth look at Governor Corbett's budget, the latest on the federal budget, and what it all means for families and communities across the commonwealth.

With the President Promising to Reduce Inequality, the Devil Will Be in the Details

We were hoping to hear President Obama in his State of the Union address underline his commitment to taking on our greatest short- and long-term challenges: persistent high unemployment and rapidly growing inequality.

Third and State This Week: PA Among Top 10 Most Regressive Tax States, Liquor Privatization and Latest Jobs Report

This week at Third and State, we blogged about a new study finding Pennsylvania is among the "Terrible 10" most regressive tax states in the nation, the lost revenues and increased social costs that would come with privatization of the state liquor stores, what the latest national jobs report means, and much more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On state and local taxes, Chris Lilienthal blogged about a new study from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy finding that middle- and low-income working families in Pennsylvania pay a far higher share of their income in taxes than the wealthiest earners. Chris had a follow up post that looked at how Pennsylvania taxes compared to neighboring New Jersey and West Virginia. We also blogged about what a progressive tax system should look like.
  • On privatization, Stephen Herzenberg responded to Governor Tom Corbett's plan to privatize liquor stores by highlighting the likely impacts: an increase in excessive alcohol consumption and its related negative impacts as well as the loss of some of the nearly half a billion dollars in revenues generated by the state system.
  • On jobs and the economy, Mark Price wrote that in light of January's national jobs report, the recovery remains on track, but the pace of job growth is perilously slow.
  • And on education and the state budget, Chris Lilienthal shared a news report on Budget Secretary Charles Zogby's address to the Pennsylvania Press Club, and the "false choice" he presented between education funding in the next budget and changes to state pensions.

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

January Jobs Report: Good But Not Good Enough

This morning the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the unemployment rate edged up slightly to 7.9% in January as nonfarm payrolls increased by 157,000 jobs. January's jobs figure was somewhat below the average gain in the previous three months (201,000).

On the whole, the recovery remains on track, but the pace of job growth remains perilously slow.

Third and State This Week: Union Membership, Tax Loopholes and a Medicaid Opportunity Too Good to Pass Up

This week at Third and State, we blogged about a new report on union membership, tax loophole bills approved by a state House committee, Republican governors opting in to the expansion of Medicaid and more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On a new report on union membership, Stephen Herzenberg channeled Mark Twain to write that the reports of unions' death are greatly exaggerated.
  • On state budget and taxes, Michael Wood blogged about two bills that passed the House Finance Committee this week and would create new loopholes in Pennsylvania's tax system.
  • On health care, Sharon Ward wrote about growing bipartisan agreement that the optional expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act is too good an opportunity to pass up.
  • On the federal budget, Chris Lilienthal shared a table from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities showing how much in across-the-board federal cuts are slated to take effect in March under the fiscal cliff deal.

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

About that Federal Budget Sequester...

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a table showing how the fiscal cliff deal reduced the 2013 federal budget sequester, automatic across-the-board cuts now scheduled to take effect March 1. The cuts had originally been slated for January 2, but the fiscal cliff deal delayed them.

As the table at the Center's Off the Charts Blog shows, more than $85 billion in sequester cuts are still on tap for 2013 unless Congress acts.

Fiscal Cliff Deal Reduces Automatic Budget Cuts for 2013

Third and State Recap: The Medicaid Expansion, Lost Education Jobs and Costs of Lottery Privatization

Over the past two weeks at Third and State, we blogged about lost jobs in public schools, the latest state jobs report, what's at stake in the decision to expand Pennsylvania's Medicaid program, how much lottery privatization could end up costing seniors' programs, and much more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On jobs and the economy, Mark Price blogged about new data showing employment in Pennsylvania's public schools was at a decade low in the 2011-12 school year. Mark Price also put Pennsylvania's December jobs report in some perspective.
  • On health care, Michael Wood highlighted an infographic showing that if Pennsylvania opts out of the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, it will create a coverage gap for working families earning between 46% and 100% of poverty.
  • On privatization, Stephen Herzenberg blogged that the Corbett administration's plan to privatize the Pennsylvania Lottery could end up costing seniors' programs a billion dollars or more.
  • On the Marcellus Shale, Mark Price wrote about the latest numbers on direct jobs created by shale drilling, which accounts for just 0.38% of all Pennsylvania jobs.
  • On the state budget, Kate Atkins wrote about Bucks County students who served up a tasty five-star meal to area elected officials last week to underscore the value of investing in career training and technical education.

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

Lunch Is Served: Bucks Students Make a Tasty Case for Investing in Career Training

If the high school students were a little nervous as they prepared lunch Thursday for several Bucks County elected officials, they didn’t show it.

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