Pennsylvania's Revenue-Estimating Process Doesn't Add Up

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center’s analysis last month of the state’s 2014-15 budget cites a “myriad of dubious revenue sources, including an increase in collections well above what the Independent Fiscal Office projected.”

Now comes a timely, new report from the non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, D.C., grading the process by which Pennsylvania (and other states) generate revenue estimates for annual budgets.

The Real-Life Impact of Undermining Public Schools: A Philadelphia Inquirer Profile

A profile of a teacher in this morning’s Philadelphia Inquirer brings to life the real-life consequences, for teachers and for children, of the deep funding cuts in the School District of Philadelphia in the past several years.

Internet access taxes – let state and local government decide

Since 1998 when it passed the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA), Congress has banned state and local governments from enacting new taxes on internet access or including internet access in existing sales taxes. Now Congress is considering making the ban permanent. The House Judiciary Committee recently approved a bill that would do just that.

Why Triad Strategies is Wrong on Ride Sharing

Our recent blog on 'the Non-Sharing Economy' prompted a response from Roy Wells at Triad Strategies. Triad is the Harrisburg lobbying and public relations firm secured by Lyft to make the case that its services should not be subject to the same rules that govern cabs. We appreciate Roy's weighing in and giving us the opportunity for a deeper back-and-forth.

The Not Sharing Economy: Lyft and Uber take aim at Pennsylvania

The companies Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. offer smart phone apps that allow you to find drivers available for hire. The companies have expanded rapidly in the last year and are just now hitting the City of Pittsburgh. 

Investigators from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission responsible for regulating taxi cabs caught the companies operating in Pittsburgh and two judges have issued orders for the companies to stop offering their services in the city.

As Josh Eidelson in Business Week notes, the conflict in Pittsburgh is not a new experience for the companies. They have also met with resistance in some other states and localities in which the firms began offering services without first obtaining regulatory approval.

Facts on Marcellus Shale Jobs and Taxes

Last night, the House of Representatives passed a budget plan for 2014-15.  However, how this plan is paid for is still a mystery. One commonsense idea that could still be included in the budget is the passage of severance tax on natural gas drillers. For 2014-15 a 5% tax could raise over $400 million in new funds above the current impact fee.  This could go a long way in restoring funding cut out of the House budget plan.  

Pension Update - Time to Go Back to the Drawing Board

We're closing in on the end game of the Pennsylvania budget process and lawmakers are considering two different pension proposals -- both of which would be a step backward. Here's an update on these options, with links to where you can find more information.

This is what the business lobby looks like on drugs

I just read this Mother Jones story on a letter from the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) that focuses on whether or not auto insurance is affordable for low income consumers.  In making the case for the affordability of the auto insurance products of its members, NAMIC quoted statistics from the Consumer Expenditures Survey:

Expanding Medicaid: Close the Budget Gap. Check. Insure Thousands of Pennsylvanians. Check.

As lawmakers continue debating how to close a $1.5 billion budget gap, there is a particularly valuable and compassionate policy option still on the table: Medicaid expansion. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the federal government will commit to paying 100% of coverage costs for new enrollees under Medicaid expansion, through 2016. This has the combined effect of easing the financial burden of the state, and giving hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians access to health care coverage.

Robust Pennsylvania Job Growth in May But Long-Term Picture Little Changed

The Pennsylvania employment situation report, released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, showed that the number of “jobs” in Pennsylvania – nonfarm payroll employment as measured by a survey of employers – grew by a robust 24,700 in May, and the state unemployment rate fell by one-tenth of a percentage point to 5.6 percent. The job jump in May was enough to improve PA’s long-term job-growth ranking – but only by one place, to 48th out of the 50 states going back to January 2011.

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