10 Reasons Governor Corbett's Pension Plan Will Dig a Deeper Hole for Taxpayers

The Keystone Research Center recently put together the following top 10 reasons the Governor's public pension plan will dig a deeper hole for the state's taxpayers. I thought I'd pass it along here.

On Tap Today: Budget Vote, School Rally & Lives on the Line

Today is a busy day at the State Capitol. Superintendents from cuts-ravaged urban school districts are in town to press for more education funding. Harrisburg, York, Lancaster, Allentown, and Reading, among others, are looking at a third year of deep cuts to student programs.

Housing Issues Discussed On Radio Smart Talk

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This morning you can hear Liz Hersh of the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania discuss housing issues in Pennsylvania on Radio Smart Talk. If you can't listen now, you can download the podcast later. Below are a few graphs that display trends in housing prices in Pennsylvania over the last few years.

Another Day Older and Deeper in Debt

Last week, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee in a narrow vote approved Senate Bill 975, opening the door to thousands of predatory payday lenders to come to Pennsylvania and charge fees on short-term loans that equal an annual interest rate of over 300% on a typical two-week payday loan.

Third and State Recap: State Budget News, Payday Lending, Pensionomics, Education Funding & More

Over the past two weeks at Third and State, we blogged about the latest on the state budget and education funding, May's revenue report, and why policymakers must prioritize investments in Pennsylvania's future over new tax cuts. We also wrote about how public pensions inject millions into local economies and why payday lending, by any name, is still a debt trap.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On state budget and taxes, Sharon Ward blogged about the state House Republicans' 2013-14 budget plan and shared a video of her appearance this week on the Pennsylvania Cable Network where she made the case for closing tax loopholes, delaying new tax cuts, and restoring funding to schools and human services in the next budget. Kate Atkins blogged about school district and county officials from across the state who came to Harrisburg this week with a message for state lawmakers: prioritize investments in our schools, county health services, and infrastructure over new tax cuts. And Michael Wood wrote that while General Fund revenues are ahead of estimates in May, this year’s revenue surplus is unlikely to reach the $232 million forecasted back in February.
  • On public pensions, Stephen Herzenberg blogged about a Keystone Research Center report showing that pension benefits earned by retired teachers, first responders and public health workers inject millions of dollars into regional and local economies across Pennsylvania.
  • On payday lending, Mark Price wrote about Senate legislation that would legalize predatory payday loans with annual interest rates above 300%. Payday loans are described in the bill as "micro loans," but as Mark writes, payday lending, by any name, takes advantage of people in financial distress.
  • Finally, on education, we posted a video from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's May 28 webinar laying out the facts on state cuts to education in recent years.

IN OTHER NEWS:

MARK YOUR CALENDAR:

  • Time is running out. 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.
  • Join the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center on Tuesday, June 18 from 4 to 5 p.m. for a webinar highlighting the latest on the 2013-14 state budget. Learn more and register to participate.

PA Pensions Inject Millions into Local Economies

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Pension benefits earned by retired teachers, first responders and public health workers inject millions of dollars into regional and local economies across Pennsylvania, according to a new report from the Keystone Research Center. Statewide, $7.6 billion in pension benefits were paid out to Pennsylvania residents, generating an estimated $13.2 billion in economic activity.

May Revenues Above Estimate But Still Lag Governor's February Projections

General Fund revenue collections exceeded estimate in May and remain ahead for the fiscal year with only one month to go. While this is good news, it appears that this year’s revenue surplus is unlikely to reach the $232 million forecast back in February by the Corbett administration.

PA School Leaders Come to Harrisburg

Ron Williams, Pottstown School BoardSchool district and county officials from across Pennsylvania came to Harrisburg Tuesday with a message for state lawmakers: prioritize investments in our schools, county health services, and infrastructure over new tax cuts.

Video: Closing Loopholes and Investing in a Better Pennsylvania

I wanted to share a video of my appearance last night on the PCN Call-In Program with Representative Dave Reed where we discussed business taxes in Pennsylvania.

While both Representative Reed and I agreed that it is important to close corporate tax loopholes, I made the case for a more comprehensive approach to doing so and for using the revenue it would raise to invest in schools and the public services that will help our economy to grow.

I said it is vitally important to look at coprorate taxes as a whole, which have been cut significantly over the past decade without much job growth to show for it. But what we have seen are devastating cuts to communities and higher local property taxes.

Watch the video below or at this link.

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. 

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