Third and State This Week: Upward Mobility, Pittsburgh and Detroit, Revenue Wrap, and Diversion Politics

This week at Third and State, we blogged about a new study showing the American Dream of upward mobility is more alive in Pennsylvania than in many parts of the country. We also wrote about 2012-13 revenue collections and a well-oiled effort to distract middle-class families from the real cause of their economic struggle. Plus, a guest post on how Pittsburgh avoided Detroit's fate.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On wages and mobility, Stephen Herzenberg blogged about a new study by Harvard and Berkeley economists showing that Pennsylvania enjoys substantially more upward mobility than many other parts of the United States.
  • On state budget and taxes, Michael Wood explained some of the key takeaways from General Fund revenue collections in the 2012-13 fiscal year.
  • On nutrition assistance, Stephen Herzenberg responded to the latest salvo in an organized right-wing assault on nutrition assistance and other safety net spending. Steve wrote that the real kitchen table issue facing most Americans is rising income inequality.
  • And on the Marcellus Shale and the economy, guest blogger Tim Stuhldreher shared his thoughts on why Pittsburgh has fared much better than Detroit after taking huge economic hits in the 1980s. Hint: it is not all about shale drilling.

IN OTHER NEWS

Pennsylvania, Land of Opportunity

We're not always the "good news bears," but today we're thrilled to give greater visibility to a landmark new study that shows the American Dream of upward mobility is more alive in Pennsylvania than in most parts of the country.

Guest Post: It Wasn’t the Shale, Yinz

By Tim Stuhldreher
Originally published at Tim Stuhldreher's Blog

Paul Krugman muses on why deindustrialization left Detroit a basket case, but not Pittsburgh. Both metros were one-industry towns well into the 1970s (cars in Detroit, steel in Pittsburgh). Both took huge economic hits in the 1980s when the factories closed and the jobs went away. Yet today Detroit is a bankrupt wasteland, while Pittsburgh isn’t doing too badly. What’s the difference?

A Revenue Wrap for 2012-13

Last week I shared a chart tracking General Fund revenue collections compared to official estimates over the 2012-13 fiscal year. Here it is again.
2012-13 General Fund Revenue Surplus/(Deficit) by Month

Now for a bit more analysis.

Diversion Politics and Factual Errors with 'Americans for a Tiny Sliver of Rich People'

Jennifer Stefano, the Pennsylvania director of Americans for Prosperity, published an op-ed in the Patriot-News Friday — the latest salvo in an organized right-wing assault on nutrition assistance and other safety net spending.

Third and State This Week: Fewer College Grads Starting Businesses and State Revenue Collections in 2012-13

This week at Third and State, we blogged about student loan debt deterring college grads from starting their own businesses, income inequality and efforts to turn back prevailing wage laws for construction workers, and revenue collections during the now-completed 2012-13 Fiscal Year.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On higher education, Jamar Thrasher blogged that more and more American college graduates are declining to start their own businesses partly because of the rising costs of tuition and crushing student loan debt.
  • On income inequality and the prevailing wage, Stephen Herzenberg wrote that too many people in the "1%" (and the smaller groups at the very, very top) seem to have convinced themselves that they are not only more deserving but also somehow different than — better than — other people.
  • And on state budget and taxes, Michael Wood shared the following chart tracking monthly revenue collection trends in the now-completed 2012-13 Fiscal Year.
    2012-13 General Fund Revenue Surplus/(Deficit) by Month

STATE BUDGET RESOURCES:

A Look at the Fiscal Year that Was

With Pennsylvania's 2012-13 fiscal year in the rearview mirror, here is a look at how General Fund revenue collections compared to official estimates (click on the image for a larger view).

As you can see, monthly collections came in below projections almost as often as they came in above, with year-end receipts nearly $57 million ahead of the annual estimate. (The line tracks the cumulative annual surplus/deficit from month to month.)
2012-13 General Fund Revenue Surplus/(Deficit) by Month

$1 Trillion in Student Loan Debt Hampering Young Entrepreneurs

It appears more and more American college graduates are declining to start their own businesses due to the rising costs of tuition and crushing student loan debt. Bloomberg examines the obstacles facing young entrepreneurs:

Toshi Seeger and Respect for the Working Man and Woman

Toshi Seeger's obituary last week in The New York Times brought a smile to my face.

Toshi provided her husband, the folk singer Pete Seeger, with the organizational skills without which he would have not been so influential or commercially successful.

Toshi also kept him grounded. “I hate it when people romanticize him,” she said. “He’s like anybody good at his craft, like a good bulldozer operator.”

That simple sentiment works in both directions. It helped make sure Pete Seeger would not become too big for his britches. It also communicates deep respect for the bulldozer operator — and for hardworking people more generally.

Third and State This Week: Budget Analysis, Food Security Danger, Unremarkable Private Job Growth & Payday Lenders

This week at Third and State, we blogged about the state budget, the danger facing America's leading food security program, Pennsylvania's unremarkable private-sector job performance, and a gambit by payday lenders that backfired.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On state budget and taxes, Sharon Ward shared the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's detailed analysis of the 2013-14 budget, and Michael Wood explained that tax changes enacted along with the budget made some steps toward reform but weigh the state's Tax Code down with more special interest tax breaks.
  • On the federal budget, Sharon Ward wrote that legislation separating agricultural programs from nutrition supports funded through the farm bill poses a threat to food assistance for millions of struggling parents, children, and vulnerable citizens.
  • On jobs, Stephen Herzenberg blogged that Pennsylvania’s private-sector job growth has almost stalled since about a year into Governor Corbett's term.
  • On consumer protection, Mark Price explained how payday lenders won few friends in the state Senate when they convinced House leaders to insert language into a must-pass Fiscal Code bill stating it was the intent of House and Senate leaders to enact payday legislation in the fall.

STATE BUDGET RESOURCES:

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