A Guide to the Creative Use of Numbers by the Business Lobby

The debate over raising the minimum wage can quickly become a fog of studies and numbers. So in the spirit of keeping people honest, we review some of the arguments against raising the wage made in a Philadelphia Inquirer article by Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry chief Gene Barr.

A Look at Shale Drilling’s Mixed Legacy

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Multi-State Shale Research CollaborativeNatural gas drilling has transformed two Pennsylvania counties with the greatest development activities, for better and for worse.

That statement in itself is not surprising, but two new studies from the Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative have a wealth of data on just how much these communities have been transformed. And some of the findings may surprise you.

Houston, We Have a (Revenue) Problem

Pennsylvania General Fund revenue collections fell short of estimate, for practical purposes, by more than $100 million in what is usually the largest month of collections for the year. March receipts typically get a boost from a swell in corporate tax payments, but lower-than-expected bank tax collections this March brought corporate tax revenues in well below estimate. Sales tax collections also missed the mark for the fifth straight month.

Morning Must Reads: Don't Settle for 'Chump Change' with Gas Extraction Tax

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Two Pennsylvania newspaper editorials are making the case this week for enacting a severance tax on natural gas drilling, like most large energy-producing states have.

Morning Must Read: PA Senator Proposing 5% Natural Gas Severance Tax

State Senator Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia will unveil a plan today to assess a 5% severance tax on natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania. He told the Philadelphia Daily News that his plan will generate more than $1 billion for education by 2020:

NFIB's Flawed Minimum Wage Study Doesn't Tell Us Much

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How do you know that momentum is building in the campaign to raise the minimum wage? Opponents arrive with inflated claims of job losses if we raise the wage.

Apocalypse Not: Study Finds Severance Tax Unlikely to Scare Away Drillers from Marcellus Shale

By Parth Vaishnav (left) & Nathaniel Horner (right) of Carnegie Mellon University

Parth VaishnavNathaniel HornerA common argument against enacting a severance tax on shale gas in Pennsylvania is that the additional cost will cause the industry to leave the state. As graduate students in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University, we decided to test that idea.

We found that replacing the state's current drilling impact fee with a 5% severance tax would be very unlikely to inhibit new drilling. Our study looks at what such a tax would mean on a driller's internal rate of return (IRR) and how that would influence drilling decisions. What we find is that while a severance tax would decrease a well's IRR, as does the impact fee, the decrease is rather small — making wells still quite profitable for drillers.

Pa.'s Shale Fee Very Low Compared to Other States

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Pennsylvania's fee on Marcellus Shale gas wells is the lowest among 11 states examined by the Independent Fiscal Office in a new study out last week.

As PBPC Research Director Michael Wood told The Philadelphia Inquirer, "this report highlights what we've said for a while: The impact fee is low compared to other states."

Read the Inquirer story for more.

Why a Minimum-wage Increase Would Help Families in Pennsylvania

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When you restrict your view to just parents affected by an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, the average low-wage parent is responsible for just over half (51%) of her family's income.

Some Major Corporations Pay Little or Nothing in State Income Taxes

What do Pennsylvania-based companies PPL, H.J. Heinz, Airgas, Allegheny Technologies, Hershey, and Comcast have in common? They each pay little or nothing in state income taxes, according to a new report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) and Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ).

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