A New Year's Resolution for PA Lawmakers - Pass a Fiscally Responsible State Budget

It turns out we're not the only ones waiting for a responsible Pennsylvania state budget that actually raises the revenue the state needs to pay its debts -- and also to adequately fund education, infrastructure and human services. 

The rating agency, Standard and Poor's (S&P), is also waiting for a fiscally responsible budget.

Pension’s Hybrid Pension Plan – We Told You So

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Actuarial studies released yesterday confirmed what Keystone Research Center said a month ago about the Pennsylvania hybrid pension plan that passed the Senate and is now being considered in the Pennsylvania House. The hybrid pension plan won’t save any money. It will actually increase taxpayer costs if courts rule unconstitutional savings from cutting current members’ benefits. But the plan will cut benefits deeply.

Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way

Five and a half weeks ago, Governor Wolf and the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Pennsylvania House and Senate announced a bi-partisan “budget framework” designed to end the long impasse over the budget. The framework agreement, like most compromises between parties that are far apart, pleased no one. But it provided enough to satisfy everyone.

Why conservatives can like Pennsylvania's personal income tax

Rumors of a sudden interest on the part of Republicans in raising the personal Income tax (PIT) instead of the sales tax to meet the revenue requirements of the budget framework have floated across 3rd Street to our offices at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center. So I’m going to do something unusual for us—and frankly a bit uncomfortable—and give some conservative arguments for preferring the PIT over the sales tax. 

Maybe the Left Hand of Pew Trust Needs to Talk to the Right Hand...

The Patriot-News yesterday highlighted a new report by the Pew Trust which finds that the middle class is shrinking. That’s interesting, especially given that, another part of Pew has been advocating for several years with former Enron billionaire John Arnold for policies that would further undermine the middle class. (Check on this link for one perspective on Arnold and Pew.)

Backroom budget deal attempts to derail environmental regulations

The Pennsylvania Senate today passed the Fiscal Code, a must-pass piece of legislation that is part of the budget process. It contains provisions that would subvert Pennsylvania’s climate plan and gas drilling regulations and raid $12 million from the Alternative Energy Investment Act to create a new “Natural Gas Infrastructure Development Fund” providing more taxpayer help to an industry that still doesn’t pay a severance tax in Pennsylvania.

Natural gas severance tax or impact fee – false choice

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Pennsylvania should enact a severance tax on natural gas production. The need to enact a severance tax will not change regardless of the outcome of current, protracted budget debate between the Republican-controlled General Assembly and the Wolf administration.

The Wealth Strippers Are Back!!!

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Unintended Consequences? Property Tax Elimination Increases Taxes on the Middle Class to Reduce Taxes for high income families

The budget end game has focused a lot on property tax cuts. The budget framework agreement includes property tax relief, the allocation of which has not yet been worked out. And now the Pennsylvania Senate will consider SB 76, a bill to eliminate school property taxes early next week. Property tax elimination would be paid for by raising the sales tax rate to 7 percent and expanding it to cover more services, and by raising the personal income tax rate to 4.34 percent.

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