The Revenue Shortfall and the Budget

Almost as soon as the Pennsylvania budget was passed in July, rumors swirled about the legislature coming back—either in a lame duck session in December or next year—to fix it because it was not truly balanced. The Department of Revenue’s announcement yesterday that revenues for the year to date are running $218 million below estimates, makes revisting the budget even more likely.

In July, we at PBPC pointed out that estimates of some of the one-time revenues included in the budget—especially those from selling licenses for internet gaming, for a second Philadelphia casino, and for the expansion of alcohol sales—were possibly over-stated. We also said that we were not confident that enough money was appropriated to meet the likely caseload for medical assistance (The Commonwealth must appropriate its share of funding for these programs to continue to draw down the federal funding for them.) Those problems still remain.

SNAP Works for Pennsylvania Children

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The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps PA families put food on the table. But we know now that it accomplishes much more than that.

Research increasingly shows that SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps, can ward against the long-term effects on children of experiencing poverty, abuse or neglect, parental substance abuse or mental illness, and exposure to violence—events that can take a toll on their well-being as adults.  As a new Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report finds, SNAP helps form a strong foundation of health and well-being for low-income children by lifting millions of families out of poverty, improving food security, and helping improve health and academic achievement with long-lasting consequences. 

It’s doing all that across Pennsylvania. SNAP is improving our children’s futures.

SWPA 2016 Highlight: Non-College Pennsylvania Women Still Playing Catch Up

The post below is one of a series of posts about specific trends examined in the recently-released annual edition of The State of Working Pennsylvania.

We’ve already laid out how Pennsylvania men without a college degree have not shared in Pennsylvania's economic gains over the past few decades. What about women?

White women with less than a bachelor’s degree in Pennsylvania have fared a little better than similarly-educated men, experiencing a 13 percent increase in hourly earnings since 1979-81 -- a one third of one percent increase annually. Black women with less than a bachelor’s degree saw their inflation-adjusted hourly earnings decline 1 percent in the last 36 years. 

An Extraordinary Year of Income Growth in Pennsylvania

Yesterday the Census Bureau released data from the American Community Survey showing that median household incomes in Pennsylvania rose by just over $2,400 in the last year, strong evidence that an economy nearing full employment generates rising wages for workers. Higher-income families have now surpassed their pre-Great Recession incomes but the lower-income half of families have not.

New Data, Good News: Health Insurance

Most news is bad news. And political campaigns are more likely to flag what is wrong with our country than what is right with it. So, it’s not surprising that in the heat of a presidential election, we are more focused on what is wrong with our country than what is right with it.

But as the federal government updates its statistics on income, poverty and health care this week, we can take a moment to appreciate the good news—government at the federal and state level has been increasingly successful at encouraging broadly prosperity.

SWPA 2016 Highlight: Non-College Educated Men in PA Falling Farther Behind

The post below is one of a series of posts about specific trends examined in the recently-released annual edition of The State of Working Pennsylvania, written by Keystone Research Center Executive Director and economist Stephen Herzenberg and Research Director and economist Mark Price.

Many parts of Pennsylvania have been known for decades as blue-collar, working class communities. In these communities, manufacturing jobs sprouted and provided family-sustaining jobs from one generation to another, usually for men. As the economy has shifted, these communities and these men, many with only a high-school degree, have suffered. While this is familiar to most Pennsylvanians, the economic facts that tell the story never fail to stun. For example, let's take a look at wages over time for working-age men (aged 18 to 64) in Pennsylvania with less than a bachelor’s degree. As you do keep in mind that this is a BIG group--seven out of every 10 working-age men in Pennsylvania.

Education Voters of PA Statement on the Oral Argument Before the PA Supreme Court for the School Funding Lawsuit

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The following is a guest post from Susan Spicka, Executive Director of Education Voters of Pennsylvania. It was originally posted on their blog here.

Following oral argument of the school funding lawsuit before the PA Supreme Court, Susan Spicka, Executive Director of Education Voters of PA, made the following statement at a press conference at Philadelphia City Hall:

My name is Susan Spicka and I am the Executive Director of Education Voters of Pennsylvania and a parent of two children who attend public schools in the south central part of the state.

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.

Pennsylvania Job Growth in June

This morning the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry reported that nonfarm payrolls grew in June by 20,000 and the unemployment rate edged up slightly to 5.6%. A companion survey of Pennsylvania households registered a decline in resident employment in June of 7,000 — the third straight month of declines in this data.

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