State Budget and Taxes

Pension Reforms in 2010 Achieved Major Long-Term Savings

Pennsylvania policymakers made significant progress reducing the cost of state pensions with a 2010 law that cut the benefits of future employees, enacted new employee “risk sharing” to protect taxpayers in future economic downturns, and maintained public employee contribution levels that are higher than in most other states.

Podcast Tuesday: Your Two-Minute Look at the Governor's Budget and Medicaid Expansion

I sat down with Triad Strategies Monday to discuss the Governor's 2013-14 budget proposal and the opportunity to expand Medicaid health coverage to hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians under the Affordable Care Act. Take two minutes to watch the highlights below.

Revenue Collections Fall Short of Estimates for a Second Straight Month

For a second straight month, Pennsylvania General Fund revenue collections fell short of targets, dropping the fiscal year-to-date revenue surplus to $105 million, or less than 1%.

February collections missed estimates by $48 million, or 2.8% of monthly estimates. All major General Fund tax streams, with the exception of corporate taxes, fell short of projections in February, which is typically the smallest month for revenue collections. 

Third and State This Week: Sequestration's Impact on PA, State Pension Primers and Medicaid Expansion

This week at Third and State, we blogged about the impact of federal sequestration cuts on Pennsylvania, how the Governor's pension plan is digging a deeper hole for taxpayers, and New Jersey joining a growing list of states to embrace the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On federal budget and taxes, Chris Lilienthal wrote about the direct, disastrous impact federal sequestration cuts will have on Pennsylvania families, children and the economy.
  • On state pensions, Stephen Herzenberg blogged about a new series of "pension primers" from the Keystone Research Center, including the first two installments in that series detailing how the Governor's pension proposal is digging a deeper hole for taxpayers.
  • On health care, Chris Lilienthal blogged about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's decision to join a growing bipartisan group of governors embracing the opportunity to expand Medicaid health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

IN OTHER NEWS: 

  • Check out the first two installments in the Keystone Research Center's new series of state pension primers intended to help demystify the often complex details at the heart of the pension debate.
  • The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has more on the impact of sequestration cuts on the commonwealth.
  • And check out PBPC's Medicaid Expansion Resource Page, with more information on the federal opportunity to expand state coverage and how you can take action.

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

Governor's Plan Digs a Deeper Pension Hole

The high cost of meeting current pension obligations is often cited as the main reason Pennsylvania needs a substantial overhaul of its pensions system. So it is a little puzzling that Governor Tom Corbett has put forth a plan that will actually increase pension costs for the state, school districts, and ultimately taxpayers.

That is the finding of the first two in a series of pension primers the Keystone Research Center released this week. So how exactly does this plan drive up costs?

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: Selling Snake Oil to the States, Medicaid Expansion Means Jobs, and the PA Budget Summit

This week at Third and State, we blogged about how ALEC is trying to sell snake oil to the states, a new report finding that an expansion of Medicaid would support tens of thousands of new Pennsylvania jobs, and the Pennsylvania Budget Summit which took place in Harrisburg this week.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On budget and fiscal policies, Sharon Ward blogged about new research striking a stake in the heart of claims by ALEC that its policies of lower taxes, fewer workplace protections, and diminished public investments is good for the public.
  • On health care policy and the economy, Chris Lilienthal wrote about a new report finding that the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act would support more than 41,200 new jobs across Pennsylvania's economy in 2016.
  • On state budget and tax policy, we pulled together live tweets from the Pennsylvania Budget Summit all in one place.

IN OTHER NEWS:

  • The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has posted resources from the Budget Summit online. This includes our Just the Facts on Pennsylvania Spending, Taxes, Debt and Tax Fairness.
  • PBPC has launched a new Education Facts Page, with Pennsylvania data on enrollment in public, private and charter schools in the commonwealth as well as information about education funding and school poverty. Check it out.

Get Live Updates from the PA Budget Summit

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center is hosting its annual Budget Summit today in Harrisburg. The event features state and federal policy experts talking about the latest on Governor Tom Corbett's 2013-14 spending plan, an update on the federal budget in Washington, and what it all means for communities and families across Pennsylvania.

ALEC Policies Sell 'Snake Oil to the States'

Three national organizations offered a scathing criticism of policies endorsed by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, in a conference call with reporters last week. Their findings strike a stake in the heart of ALEC claims that its view of the world — lower taxes, fewer workplace protections, and diminished public investments — is good for the public. 

Pennsylvania state lawmakers who look to ALEC for guidance on economic policy should stand up and take notice. 

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.
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