Webinar Debunks Myths Promoted by ALEC

PA Policy Perspectives: A Webinar SeriesThe American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, may have recently abandoned its advocacy of controversial Voter ID and Stand Your Ground laws in the face of public scrutiny — but it hasn’t stopped pushing for fiscal policies that benefit corporations and the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us.

Expansion of Health Care Will Boost PA Economy, Hospital Study Finds

Acting on the federal opportunity to expand Medicaid health coverage will give Pennsylvania’s economy a real shot in the arm. As a new study from the Hospital and HealthSystem Association of Pennsylvania shows, it will inject at least $3.2 billion annually into the state’s economy and support 35,000 to 39,000 jobs over the next seven years.

Third and State Recap: Disappointing Job Growth, Ryan Budget's Impact on PA, Revenue Update, Frack Attack & More

After taking a break last week, Third and State is back with a blog recap for the past two weeks. We blogged about the latest U.S. jobs report and Pennsylvania revenue update, the billions Pennsylvania could lose under Congressman Paul Ryan's budget, Ed Rendell making the case for gas drilling in New York, how "Tax Freedom Day" overstates the taxes most Americans pay, and much more.


  • On jobs and the economy, Mark Price wrote that U.S. job growth continued to disappoint in March.
  • On federal tax and budget issues, Sharon Ward blogged about how Paul Ryan's budget cuts critical federal funding for Pennsylvania's schools, health care, clean water, law enforcement, and other key services, while providing big new tax cuts to corporations and the wealthiest individuals. We also wrote about tax credits for working families that are in jeopardy in federal deficit reduction talks. Finally, Chris Lilienthal blogged that the Tax Foundation's "Tax Freedom Day" presents a misleading picture of the taxes that most Americans pay.
  • On the Marcellus Shale, Sharon Ward blogged about how former Governor Ed Rendell got into some hot water last week with an op-ed in the New York Daily News touting the economic benefits of hydrofracking. Mark Price shared new data on natural gas-related employment in Pennsylvania.
  • On state budget and taxes, Michael Wood wrote that state revenue collections fell short of projections in four of the last five months, which could put 2013-14 spending in jeopardy.
  • On health care, Sharon Ward shared a recent op-ed she wrote explaining why Pennsylvania should take a federal opportunity to expand health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Chris Lilienthal explained how you can let your lawmakers know that expanding health coverage is the right choice for Pennsylvania.
  • On education, Jamar Thrasher blogged about a recent report finding that the nation's poor students are not attending the nation's top colleges and universities.


  • The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (PBPC) is launching a new policy webinar series next week, starting with one Tuesday that will debunk the tax and budget myths promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.
  • Read PBPC's full analysis of Pennsylvania's March revenue report.
  • Learn more about the threat facing federal tax credits for working families — including the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.
  • Learn more about public pension reform in Pennsylvania at the Keystone Research Center's Pensions Issue Page.
  • Learn more about the federal opportunity to expand health coverage in Pennsylvania at PBPC's Medicaid Expansion Resource Page.
  • Learn more about education in Pennsylvania at PBPC's Education Facts Page with data on student enrollment, education funding, and school poverty.

U.S. Job Growth Continues to Disappoint in March

Nonfarm payrolls grew by 88,000 in March while the unemployment rate stood at 7.6%, little changed from the month before, according to a report this morning from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Bill McBride at Calculated Risk wrote Thursday that the consensus forecast was for an increase in nonfarm payrolls of 193,000 and for the unemployment rate to hold steady at 7.7%.

Protect Crucial Tax Credits for Working Families in PA

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center put out the following action alert today.

As Congress debates a plan to reduce the deficit, one thing is clear — deficit reduction should not fall on the backs of low-income working families.

Yet that is exactly what happens in a budget passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on March 21. The House plan makes a number of changes to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) that could end up costing working families billions.

Another Revenue Shortfall in March Could Put 2013-14 Spending in Jeopardy

Pennsylvania tax collections in March fell short of estimate by nearly $100 million (or 2.3%) — in what is typically the commonwealth’s biggest month for tax collections. The total shortfall, after accounting for non-tax revenue, was $69 million, or 1.6% below monthly revenue targets.

Pennsylvania still has a revenue surplus for the fiscal year, but it has shrunk from a high of $171 million in December to $36 million in March. I have a more detailed analysis, including all the numbers, at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's web site. Below are the highlights.

‘Tax Freedom Day’ Overstates Taxes Most Americans Pay

Tax Foundation's Average Far More Than What Most Americans Pay in Federal TaxesThe Tax Foundation released its annual “Tax Freedom Day” report today that once again presents a misleading picture of the taxes that most Americans pay. It takes a one-size-fits-all approach to taxpayers — one that fits Bill Gates and Warren Buffett a lot better than it fits most Americans. The result is an “average” tax rate that is likely higher than the tax rates paid by eight out of every 10 U.S. households.

The Tax Foundation’s calculation also relies on estimates that often change once the actual numbers come in because it is based on anticipated tax revenue from thousands of states and municipalities. These have proven to be hard to predict, particularly in tough economic times, making the estimated data unreliable. 

Expanding Health Coverage Smart Thing to Do in PA

Governor Tom Corbett is meeting with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today to discuss the opportunity to expand Medicaid health coverage in Pennsylvania. As we await news from that meeting, I wanted to share the following op-ed I co-authored with Raymond Castro of New Jersey Policy Perspective, making the case that Governor Corbett should follow the lead of New Jersey's governor and expand health coverage to hundreds of thousands of hardworking Pennsylvanians.

Ed Rendell’s Frack Attack

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Former Governor Ed Rendell got into some hot water last week with an op-ed in the New York Daily News touting the economic benefits of hydrofracking. ProPublica quickly outed the Governor for his ties to the drilling industry, and Rendell owned up to the fact that he is a consultant to Element Partners, which has investments in the gas industry. The Daily News has added a note to its web site disclosing the financial arrangement.

New Data on Natural Gas-related Employment in PA

This morning the Bureau of Labor Statistics released new data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages for the third quarter of 2012. This means we can expect shortly a new version of Marcellus Fast Facts for Pennsylvania from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. While we wait for that new release, here is a quick preview of what the new data say.

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