Human Services

Third and State This Week: Rising Unemployment, a Health Insurance Rate Hike and Momentum for a Drilling Tax

This week we blogged about momentum building for a natural gas drilling tax and rising unemployment in Pennsylvania. We also featured a guest post on the need for stronger insurance rate protections in Pennsylvania. And Mark Price kept us up to date with the Morning Must Reads.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On jobs and unemployment, Stephen Herzenberg shared his media statement on the rising jobless rate in Pennsylvania.
  • On the Marcellus Shale, Sharon Ward highlighted a recent New York Times article on the problems that have come with Marcellus Shale growth in Pennsylvania. Kate Atkins urged readers to sign a letter to lawmakers in support of a drilling tax that would generate revenue to improve schools, fix roads, train workers, and protect the environment.
  • On health care, Athena Ford of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network penned a guest post on the need for better insurance rate protections in Pennsylvania.
  • Finally, Mark Price had Morning Must Reads on the economic polarization of the 99%, the need for more accountability in charter schools, how we can boost the economy, and what budget cuts and layoffs have in common.

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

Morning Must Reads: Budget Cuts and Layoffs

Later today, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry will release the state's September job numbers. The Philadelphia Federal Reserve is forecasting (PDF) the unemployment rate in Pennsylvania will rise a tenth of a percentage point to 8.3% in September. If that forecast holds up, the unemployment rate in Pennsylvania will have risen by nine-tenths of a percentage point since May. Based on this morning's headlines, we can expect more bad news in the months ahead.

Philadelphia-based Checkpoint Systems Inc. announced plans to expand a restructuring program to cut expenses and jobs.

The maker of anti-theft devices for retail chains said its new plans would affect 1,000 existing employees, up from the 204 in its original scheme. Checkpoint said it had 'already taken steps to eliminate three senior executive positions' and intends to 'aggressively take out layers of management.'

In addition, Checkpoint plans to close four production facilities, but did not specify where in its news release.

While job creation in the private sector remains weak, the public sector continues to make the problem worse mostly by punishing the most vulnerable in our society.   

Third and State This Week: States Cutting Budgets, the Debt Ceiling Debate, and a Middle Class 'Under Attack'

This week, we blogged about the looming debt ceiling crisis in Washington, how state budget cuts will hurt the economic recovery, Marcellus Shale job claims, a new report on the middle class in Pennsylvania and more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • This week was a busy one for Mark Price, who penned four of our five blog posts. On the Marcellus Shale, Mark corrected an inaccurate figure in a recent Wall Street Journal piece about jobs created in Pennsylvania from Marcellus Shale drilling.
  • On the economy, Mark wrote about a recent report from the Keystone Research Center and the national policy center Demos on a middle class that is "under attack" in Pennsylvania. He also blogged about a new policy brief analyzing Pennsylvania's June jobs report.
  • On the federal debt ceiling debate, Mark shared his op-ed on this "manufactured crisis" which ran on FoxNews.com this week.
  • Finally, on the state budget, Chris Lilienthal highlighted a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities finding that at least 38 of 47 states are cutting K-12 education, higher education, health care, or other key public services in 2012. According to the report, this cuts-only approach that most states have taken will slow the recovery and weaken the nation’s economy over the long term.

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

State Cuts to Education, Health Care Will Slow Recovery

We have written about the negative impact that deep cuts to state funding will have for Pennsylvania children, seniors and our economy. Now a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that we aren't alone.

At least 38 of the 47 states with new 2011-12 budgets are cutting K-12 education, higher education, health care, or other key public services, according to the report. As Policy Analyst Erica Williams writes at the Center's Off the Charts Blog:

While states continue to face rising numbers of children enrolled in public schools, students enrolled in universities, and seniors eligible for health and long-term care services, most states (37 of 44 states for which data are available) plan to spend less on services in 2012 than they spent in 2008, adjusted for inflation — in some cases, much less.

State lawmakers no doubt faced tough decisions this year, with revenues still far below pre-recession levels and emergency federal aid all but expired.  Still, our review shows that the cuts are unnecessarily harmful, unbalanced, and counterproductive.

In Case You Missed It: Third and State Blog for Week of April 11

This week, we blogged about  adultBasic and (Not So) Special Care, a lack of accountability in the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program, a fact check on claims about gas drilling in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, and much more. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On health care, Sharon Ward writes that few adultBasic enrollees who lost their health care last month are enrolling in the Blues' Special Care Program.
  • On education, Steve Herzenberg explains that we don’t know much about the 38,000 students who received taxpayer-funded scholarships in 2009-10 to attend private and religious schools under the state’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC)
  • On the state budget, Kate Atkins (in her Third and State debut) shares the story of a Delaware County man who pulled his life together thanks to a state-funded program that might be defunded next year.
  • On the Marcellus Shale, Mike Wood has a fact check on claims made by Acting Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser on gas drilling in West Virginia, with a drilling tax, and Pennsylvania, without one. 
  • Finally, in this week's Friday Funny, Chris Lilienthal writes that the City of Altoona has gone "Pom Wonderful" - selling naming rights to the city to documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock to promote his upcoming film about product placement.

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

In DelCo, a Success Story that Raises Big Questions About Budget Priorities

Advocates, educators and parents delivered a message to Harrisburg Wednesday from the steps of the Delaware County Courthouse some 95 miles away: Don’t enact a state budget that will do real harm to working people and families in our communities.

Halfway through the press conference, a tall, broad-shouldered man named Wilson Bryant, who had been standing all the way in the back, head and shoulders above the crowd, walked to the front.  He said he didn’t have a speech prepared but wanted to testify about his personal story.  He had become seriously ill, he said, and, without health insurance, had lost his home and with it his sense of hope. 

Hard Times Generation: Homeless Kids

In case you missed it, CBS's 60 minutes ran a truly heartbreaking segment this Sunday on homeless kids. Take a break at some point today and watch the 13-minute segment.

The Pinto leaves you with that warm feeling

Tom Ridge is in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review this morning talking about economic policy:

The shale gas industry is like the auto business — it might hurt some people, but the jobs it brings to a struggling economy make it worthwhile, gas industry pitchman and former Gov. Tom Ridge said Thursday.

'You don't quit building automobiles because some people are going to crash and kill themselves,' said Ridge, who spoke at Carnegie Mellon University. 'You have to manage the risk. Capitalism and entrepreneurialism is risk management.'

Anybody remember the Ford Pinto?

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