Podcast: Helping You Understand Education Policy In PA

In my interview with Triad Strategies last week, I discussed the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's new Education Facts Page, which pulls together data and analyses on public, charter and private education in the commonwealth. We hope this web page will inform dialogue around state education funding and how we can provide better supports to students in our schools. Watch the short podcast below.

Education from Triad Strategies on Vimeo.

Third and State This Week: Talking State Budget, February Jobs, Pension Primers, and Income Inequality

This week at Third and State, we shared a podcast on the Governor's state budget proposal and the latest "pension primer" from the Keystone Research Center. We also blogged about the February jobs report, income inequality, a court ruling with implications for state health care funding, and more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On state budget and taxes, Michael Wood wrote about General Fund revenue collections missing estimate in February. Sharon Ward shared a podcast from her sit down with Triad Strategies where she discussed the governor's state budget proposal and the opportunity to expand Medicaid in Pennsylvania.
  • On jobs and the economy, Chris Lilienthal rounded up the insights of leading national economists on the U.S. jobs report for February. Nonfarm payrolls in February increased by 236,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate fell to 7.7%.
  • On pensions, Stephen Herzenberg shared the Keystone Research Center's latest "pension primer," which focused on how a 2010 law significantly reduced state pension costs going forward.
  • Mark Price shared his op-ed on how we can break the back of rising income inequality in the U.S., published this week in The Guardian.
  • On health care, Chris Lilienthal blogged about a court ruling finding that the diversion of tobacco settlement funds away from health care violated the state constitution.

IN OTHER NEWS:

  • Check out the first three installments in the Keystone Research Center's new series of state pension primers intended to help demystify the often complex details at the heart of the pension debate.
  • Read the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's latest State Revenue Tracker.
  • Check out PBPC's Medicaid Expansion Resource Page, with more information on the federal opportunity to expand state coverage and how you can take action.
  • And view PBPC's Education Facts Page with data on student enrollment, education funding, and school poverty.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Some Welcome Job News in February — in Perspective

This morning the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that nonfarm payrolls increased by 236,000 jobs. Over the past quarter, the nation has seen average monthly job growth of 191,000. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, fell to 7.7% in February, largely tranks to a drop in labor force participation.

Below are some key observations from D.C.'s leading labor economists on today's jobs report:

Pension Reforms in 2010 Achieved Major Long-Term Savings

Pennsylvania policymakers made significant progress reducing the cost of state pensions with a 2010 law that cut the benefits of future employees, enacted new employee “risk sharing” to protect taxpayers in future economic downturns, and maintained public employee contribution levels that are higher than in most other states.

Wealth Inequality Will Keep Growing Unless Workers Demand Better

I have an op-ed on The Guardian's web site today examining the problem that we all face in today's economy: income inequality. Give it a read.

Portion of Tobacco Funds Must Support Health Care for Poor, Court Rules

Posted in:

A Commonwealth Court judge has ruled that the diversion of tobacco settlement funds away from health care for low-income Pennsylvanians violated the state Constitution. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more this morning:

A state judge has ordered the Corbett administration to reinstate funding for programs that provided health insurance to tens of thousands of low-income Pennsylvanians.

Podcast Tuesday: Your Two-Minute Look at the Governor's Budget and Medicaid Expansion

I sat down with Triad Strategies Monday to discuss the Governor's 2013-14 budget proposal and the opportunity to expand Medicaid health coverage to hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians under the Affordable Care Act. Take two minutes to watch the highlights below.

Revenue Collections Fall Short of Estimates for a Second Straight Month

For a second straight month, Pennsylvania General Fund revenue collections fell short of targets, dropping the fiscal year-to-date revenue surplus to $105 million, or less than 1%.

February collections missed estimates by $48 million, or 2.8% of monthly estimates. All major General Fund tax streams, with the exception of corporate taxes, fell short of projections in February, which is typically the smallest month for revenue collections. 

Third and State This Week: Sequestration's Impact on PA, State Pension Primers and Medicaid Expansion

This week at Third and State, we blogged about the impact of federal sequestration cuts on Pennsylvania, how the Governor's pension plan is digging a deeper hole for taxpayers, and New Jersey joining a growing list of states to embrace the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On federal budget and taxes, Chris Lilienthal wrote about the direct, disastrous impact federal sequestration cuts will have on Pennsylvania families, children and the economy.
  • On state pensions, Stephen Herzenberg blogged about a new series of "pension primers" from the Keystone Research Center, including the first two installments in that series detailing how the Governor's pension proposal is digging a deeper hole for taxpayers.
  • On health care, Chris Lilienthal blogged about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's decision to join a growing bipartisan group of governors embracing the opportunity to expand Medicaid health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

IN OTHER NEWS: 

  • Check out the first two installments in the Keystone Research Center's new series of state pension primers intended to help demystify the often complex details at the heart of the pension debate.
  • The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has more on the impact of sequestration cuts on the commonwealth.
  • And check out PBPC's Medicaid Expansion Resource Page, with more information on the federal opportunity to expand state coverage and how you can take action.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Senate to Vote on Plan to Avert Worst of Sequester Cuts

Update: The American Family Economic Protection Act failed to get the 60 votes needed in the Senate for the bill to proceed to a final vote. The vote was 51-49 in favor of advancing the bill.

Automatic federal cuts to a broad range of crucial services are scheduled to go into effect tomorrow. These cuts will have a direct, disastrous impact on Pennsylvania families and children, and leading economists have warned of the damaging impact it will have on job creation and our economy. 

The Senate has an opportunity today to take a first step toward halting these across-the-board cuts, known as sequestration. The American Family Economic Protection Act is up for a vote; if enacted, it would delay cuts until January 2014 to give Congress time to develop a balanced approach to deficit reduction.

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