By Any Name, Predatory Payday Lending Is Still a Debt Trap

Stop Payday Loans in Pa.It’s been awhile since I blogged about payday lending, so let’s recap a little bit. 

Payday loans are made in small amounts but come at an extremely high cost, typically carrying annual interest rates of 300% or higher. They are called payday loans because they generally must be paid back in full, with all interest and fees, on the borrower’s next payday. Believe it or not, payday borrowers are twice as likely to file for bankruptcy as applicants whose request for a payday loan was denied by the lender.  

Pennsylvania does not currently have thousands of payday loan storefronts as you will find in states like Florida and Utah because our state law puts a low cap on the interest and fees that payday lenders can charge. Loyal readers will remember that in the last legislative session Rep. Chris Ross of Chester County introduced — and the House passed — legislation to open the door to payday lending in Pennsylvania.  The bill died in the Senate.

Ever since, payday lenders have been lobbying state Senators to reintroduce the bill. Their efforts paid off late Friday afternoon when Senator Pat Browne introduced Senate Bill 975 and hastily scheduled a vote on the bill in the Banking and Insurance Committee today. 

Today's the Day

Today's the day. It's the start of our statewide call to action as lawmakers near the final stages of the state budget process. Hundreds of Pennsylvanians will call their state House Representative today or Tuesday to urge them to restore funding for schools and human services instead of making new tax cuts for businesses.

What You Need to Know About House Budget Plan

Pennsylvania House Republican leaders today introduced a 2013-14 budget that is $100 million less than what Governor Tom Corbett proposed in February. Overall, the $28.3 billion plan cuts $230 million in spending proposed by the Governor, shifting nearly $130 million of the savings to other budget priorities.

Did They or Didn't They? Education Funding Cuts in PA

School boards, superintendents, and parents across Pennsylvania have been voicing their concerns about state cuts to education budgets, while the Governor talks about unprecedented education spending. So what is the truth?

Watch the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's recent webinar to make sense of it all. The webinar features Michael Wood, Research Director for the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center; Jim Buckheit, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators; Kelli Thompson, Government Relations Director for Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children; and Beth Olanoff, Director of the Pennsylvania League of Urban Schools. 

Morning Must Read: House GOP Budget to Trim $100 Million from Governor's February Proposal

House Republican leaders will hold a press conference at 11:30 a.m. this morning to unveil their plan for the 2013-14 state budget. The Allentown Morning Call is reporting this morning that the bill will be $100 million less than the $28.4 billion budget proposed by Governor Tom Corbett in February:

Third and State This Week: Costly Pensions Plan, a Tax Cut that Should Be Delayed, Pittsburgh’s Economy & More

This week at Third and State, we blogged about the problems with the Governor’s pension plan, how critical the expansion of Medicaid health coverage is for low-income working families in Pennsylvania, why the state should delay a planned corporate tax cut, and a new report on how Pittsburgh’s economy is doing better than other neighboring rust-belt cities.


  • On pensions, Stephen Herzenberg shared his Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed explaining that the Governor’s pension proposal will increase the state's pension debt and cost taxpayers more.
  • On health care, Jamar Thrasher blogged that if Pennsylvania rejects federal dollars to expand Medicaid, many of the state’s low-income working families will have nowhere to turn for health coverage.
  • With state budget action likely to pick up after Memorial Day, Chris Lilienthal blogged that policymakers should delay the planned phaseout of a corporate tax in order to preserve critical investments that make Pennsylvania a good place to live and do business.
  • On the economy, Jamar Thrasher wrote about a new study finding Pittsburgh's economy has fared better than neighboring rust-belt cities Buffalo, Cleveland, and Detroit.



  • Join the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center on Tuesday, May 28 from 4 to 5 p.m. for a webinar on education funding in Pennsylvania. Learn more and register to participate.
  • Join the Keystone Research Center and Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center on Thursday, June 13 for our Annual Awards Dinner at the Hilton Harrisburg. Learn more and purchase tickets.

Pittsburgh Fares Better Than Other Rust-Belt Cities Thanks to Education

From 1970 through 2006, rust-belt cities Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, and Pittsburgh have all seen a considerable decline in neighborhood population, but Pittsburgh has fared better than the rest.

The Quiet Before the Storm

The State Capitol is quiet this week, but things will pick up quickly after the Memorial Day Weekend. Pennsylvania House leaders expect to introduce a 2013-14 budget bill on Tuesday, with a vote to follow the week of June 10.

Morning Must Read: A No to Expanding Medicaid Will Leave Many in PA Out in the Cold

Pennsylvania is not the only state undecided about whether to expand Medicaid health coverage to low-income working families. As The Washington Post reports

Twenty states and the District of Columbia have signed on to the expansion, and 14 are planning to decline. But 16 [including Pennsylvania] remain in limbo as lawmakers clash in the final days and weeks of the legislative calendar, when many must come to a decision in time for the provision to kick in next year.

We have blogged (here and here) in recent weeks about reports showing how an expansion of Medicaid will benefit Pennsylvania residents both from an economic and public health standpoint.

One aspect of the debate that has not gotten as much attention is that an expanded Medicaid is the only option for many low-income working Pennsylvanians.

Not What the Doctor Ordered on Pensions

I wanted to share my op-ed in today's Philadelphia Inquirer examining the added costs and other problems in Governor Corbett's public pension proposal:

In public policy, as in medicine, a guiding principle should be "first, do no harm." In other words, don't make the problem worse.

Unfortunately, Gov. Corbett's plan to radically restructure Pennsylvania's public pension system does serious harm to taxpayers, driving up the public cost of retirement benefits for years to come. It harms Pennsylvania's teachers, nurses, emergency responders, and other public servants by undermining their retirement benefits without saving a dime. And it harms efforts by Pennsylvania schools and other public employers to attract and retain high-quality employees.

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