Severance Tax is No Burden to Booming Industry

As Pennsylvania legislators scramble to identify ways to balance the budget (no small task with a $1.5 billion deficit) one substantial source of revenue is once again up for discussion – a severance tax on natural gas production. A new report released by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center found that natural gas company impact fee payments in Pennsylvania result in one of the lowest production tax rates in the country, just 1.9%. In 2013 they paid $223 million in impact fees while the market value of natural gas production topped $11.8 billion.

CEO Pay in America: Up Up And Away!

According to recently-released data, CEOs and executives in the United States have been recovering well since the end of the recession, while most workers are being left even further behind. The Economic Policy Institute released a study today documenting compensation in 2013 for CEOs at the top 350 firms in the United States. Their data is especially valuable because it provides a consistent historical series of CEO pay trends back to 1965.

In 2013, compensation for the average CEO (using a measure that includes the value of stock options that were realized during the year) was $15.2 million, an increase of 2.8 percent over the year and more than 20 percent since 2010[1].

The Long Crawl Towards Full Employment Continued in May

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported last Friday that total nonfarm employment increased by 217,000 in May, following a 282,000 increase in April.  So far this year, 214,000 jobs have been created on average each month, compared to a 204,000 average monthly gain during the same time period in the previous year. The nation’s official unemployment rate remained unchanged from last month at 6.3%. The Labor Force Participation Rate and the Employment-to-Population ratio remained unchanged in May.  

Exploiting People Down on Their Luck To Make A Buck

The House Commerce Committee is set to vote on June 17th on SB 622 the Debt Settlement Services Act.  This legislation covers the licensing and regulation of debt settlement companies in Pennsylvania. 

Debt settlement services run television commercials in which companies with comforting names that include words like free, freedom, and relief offer consumers a chance to cut their debt by up to 50%!

Pittsburgh Again on the Forefront of Labor Innovation to Build the Next Middle Class

WESA in Pittsburgh has a radio feature airing today on union organizing among contingent faculty in higher education. It includes some excerpts from an interview with me. You can listen to it and access a transcript here.

Seattle has adopted a city minimum wage of $15 an hour.

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As you may have heard by now, Seattle has adopted a city minimum wage of $15 an hour. As with all minimum wage increases, this one will be phased in over three to seven years depending on the size of the business

Arindrajit Dube, a rising star in labor economics has an excellent editorial on the proposal that I would encourage you all to read.

More Bark than Bite: Feds Back Pennsylvania's Gross Receipts Tax after Inspector General Report

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CMS Is Not Asking for Its Money Back

A report issued by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Pennsylvania’s tax on Medicaid managed care services has a relatively sensational title. But the reality is the federal government is not going to force Pennsylvania to eliminate its Gross Receipts Tax (GRT), or even modify it, anytime soon.

Four Actuaries and a Pension Plan: Tobash Plan Is a Non-Starter

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Last week, the Public Employee Retirement Commission (PERC) released a cover memo and reports from four actuaries analyzing the newest public pension proposal championed by Governor Corbett, one put forward by Rep. Mike Tobash. We put out a press release and brief on this proposal Monday.

Is yet another vehicle to expand payday lending in the hopper in Harrisburg?

First there was HB2191 in 2012, followed by SB975 in 2013 and now Senator Jake Corman is soliciting his colleagues for co-sponsorship of a bill that would create a “90 Day Consumer Loan Program”.  With short term lending products the devil is always in the details and we don’t yet have the language of the bill.  

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