OP-ED: Is this the year Pa. resolves its perennial budget crisis?

This piece originally appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, December 28, 2016.

Many of us who write about budget politics have a keyboard shortcut to enter "Pennsylvanian Budget Crisis" into a document. Year after year, we write in December about the upcoming crisis and again in July (or sometimes far later) about how the crisis has been temporarily averted.

It is crisis time again. But perhaps this is the year we can change the script. There are new ways to do something that has eluded us in the past - solve the crisis on a long-term basis without imposing harsher new taxes on working people and the middle class.

Two Approaches to the State Budget

It’s becoming more and more rare to see serious attempts on the part of newspapers (and their virtual counterparts) to compare policy proposals meant to deal with a serious public issue. That’s one reason I was so happy to see Tim Stuhldreher’s excellent piece, “Pennsylvania think tanks battle over remedies for $1.7 billion state budget deficit” in LancasterOnline.

Broad and Narrow Taxes

Last week, just as we were putting out our paper on how to raise revenues without raising taxes on working people and the middle class, Governor Wolf announced that he would not call for raising broad-based taxes, particularly the personal income tax and sales tax, in the budget proposal he puts forward in February.

The Budget Our Democracy Deserves

Many of the ideas in this post are components of PBPC's recently-released "Fair Share Tax Proposal for Pennsylvania."

The recent political talk about Pennsylvania is focused on the latest in a series of fiscal crises. But lurking in the background is a larger crisis—a crisis of democracy in Pennsylvania. 

New Report: A Fair Share Tax Plan for Pennsylvania

In the wake of Budget Secretary Randy Albright’s mid-year budget briefing and the news that the Pennsylvania budget for 2016-17 will have a deficit of $600 million, the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center today released a new, comprehensive revenue proposal to address the looming deficit for FY 2017-18, which when combined with the deficit for this fiscal year, could approach $3 billion.

Unequal Pennsylvania

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For those of us that follow inequality statistics, this December has been a blockbuster month.  Most recently the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), in a prelude to a full reboot of its seminal report "Pulling Apart" (jointly produced with the Economic Policy Institute), released data (see the PA Fact Sheet) on family incomes in Pennsylvani

On The Mid-Year Budget Briefing: The Full Picture Is Even More Grim

Budget Secretary Randy Albright’s mid-year budget briefing this week brings worrisome news that, at its current level of expenditure and revenues, the Pennsylvania budget for the 2016-17 will have a deficit of $600 million. Part of that deficit is the result of lower tax revenues than were projected when the budget was enacted in July. Another part is higher human service caseloads, which will require a supplemental appropriation.

Reflections on the Election and the White Working Class...and Some Links Worth Reading

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Like many of you, I've spent the last 10 days reflecting on the Presidential election and devouring countless commentaries. The end of this blog includes some links I found helpful.

On The Inaction by State Senate to Fund Unemployment Compensation Call Centers

Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center Director Marc Stier made the following statement after the state Senate failed to vote for additional funding for the Department of Labor and Industry’s unemployment compensation call centers during its only scheduled post-election session day:

IFO Report: Deficits Now and In The Future

Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center Director Marc Stier made the following statement following the Independent Fiscal Office release of their Five Year Economic and Budget Outlook:

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