Third and State This Week: PA Budget, Closing Loopholes, Funding Schools, and More

The week is not quite over, as Harrisburg remains abuzz through the weekend with budget-related activity. Keep following Third and State for updates through the weekend and into next week.

So far this week, we blogged about the Pennsylvania state budget, a new poll on education funding, a real opportunity for the Senate to close tax loopholes, slowing job growth in the Marcellus Shale, the latest Pennsylvania jobs report, the problem with 401(k) plans, and more.


  • On state budget and taxes, Michael Wood had a Friday afternoon budget update, blogged about the Senate passage of funding packages for the state-related universities, and wrote about the opportunity before the Pennsylvania Senate to close corporate tax loopholes.
  • On education, Chris Lilienthal wrote about a new poll finding that public school funding is a top concern among Pennsylvania voters, even as lawmakers debate a budget that locks in nearly 85% of the classroom cuts enacted two years ago. He also shared a letter to the editor making the case for delaying an unaffordable business tax cut to restore critical educational opportunities for Pennsylvania students.
  • On pensions, Stephen Herzenberg highlighted several recent news and magazine articles showing that 401(k) plans are a bad deal for workers, providing much less retirement security than defined benefit pension plans.
  • On the Marcellus Shale, Mark Price blogged about new data showing that job growth in natural gas extraction has slowed as falling gas prices have led to a reduction in drilling activity in Pennsylvania
  • And on jobs and the economy, Mark Price wrote that Pennsylvania's May jobs report was a mixed bag.


  • Read the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's policy brief on why lawmakers should adopt a strong addback bill to recover some of the expense of costly business tax cuts enacted over the past 10 years.
  • Read findings from a new poll, commissioned by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and Public Citizens for Children and Youth, showing that public school funding is a top concern among Pennsylvania voters. Read a Philadelphia Inquirer report on the poll.
  • Read the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's policy brief setting the record straight on state education funding and get the latest budget news here.
  • Read the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's policy brief on the tens of thousands of veterans in the state who could benefit from expanding Medicaid, and read a Delaware County Daily Times editorial citing the analysis.
  • Read the Keystone Research Center's memo to lawmakers on how a Senate bill modeled on the Governor pension plan will cost taxpayers more than the current public pension systems, and another memo on a report from Pennsylvania's Public Employee Retirement Commission (PERC) confirming the high cost to taxpayers of closing the state's pension plans. Learn more about public pension reform here.

6-28-13: Update on Pennsylvania Budget

Updated: A little after 8 p.m., the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee approved, in a bipartisan 9-2 vote, a welfare code bill with a provision to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. A full Senate vote is likely Saturday, but more work remains to be done in the House and with Governor Corbett. Look for more updates Saturday.

Earlier this afternoon, the Pennsylvania House Appropriations Committee approved the state-related university funding bills, sending them to the full House (Penn State - SB 725; Pitt - SB 726; Temple - SB 727; Lincoln - SB 728; and University of Pennsylvania's veterinary and infectious disease programs - SB 729). All five bills passed the Senate unanimously on Thursday.

Time Is Running Out for Students Across PA

Passing on a great letter to the editor written by Haverford Township School Board member Lawrence A. Feinberg and published in several newspapers across the state. Share in on Facebook here.

New Data: Job Growth In Marcellus Shale Slows Again In Last Quarter of 2012

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The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released new data Thursday from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages for the fourth quarter of 2012 -- which means we can expect shortly a new version of Marcellus Fast Facts 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.

6/27/13: Update on Pennsylvania Budget

While no General Fund spending plan emerged from the state Senate today, there was modestly good news on higher education funding.

PA Shouldn't Miss a Real Opportunity to Close Loopholes

In the coming days, the Pennsylvania Legislature will be hammering out a deal to balance the 2013-14 state budget. One piece of the package will be a budget-related tax plan that may include a provision designed to close corporate tax loopholes.

Specifically, lawmakers are discussing the creation of a so-called "addback" rule. Such rules require corporations to add back interest and intangible expenses (such as for copyrights and patents) paid to related companies — often affiliates in Delaware or Nevada where the income is not taxed.

Retirement Gamble: The Problem with 401(k) Plans

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Just how good are 401(k) retirement plans? According to a number of recent news and magazine articles, they are a bad deal for workers, providing much less retirement security than traditional pooled defined benefit pension plans. Pension plans tend to beat 401(k)s on investment returns while 401(k)s come with higher fees. For these reasons and one other (401(k)'s don't pool longevity risk--don't ask), 401(k)s cost a lot more in contributions to achieve to achieve the same level of retirement security.

New Poll: School Funding Top Concern for Pennsylvanians

Public school funding is a top concern among Pennsylvania voters, according to a new poll that comes as state lawmakers are debating a budget locking in nearly 85% of the classroom cuts enacted two years ago.

May's Job Picture Is Mixed In Pennsylvania

Unemployment in Pennsylvania fell by one-tenth of a percentage point to 7.5% in May, while non-farm payrolls fell by 9,200, according to a Friday report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Data from the household survey painted an unambiguously positive picture for May: the labor force increased by 16,000, employment grew by just over 24,000, and the number of unemployed declined by 9,000.

Third and State This Week: School Funding Cuts, Medicaid Expansion Good for Veterans & Drilling Fee Fails to Keep Up

This week at Third and State, we set the record straight about state education funding cuts and how Pennsylvania's drilling impact fee is failing to keep pace with growth in natural gas production. We also wrote about growing momentum to delay a corporate tax cut and the tens of thousands of uninsured veterans who would benefit from expanding Medicaid in Pennsylvania.


  • On education, Chris Lilienthal blogged that nearly 85% of the cuts to public school classrooms enacted in the past two years remain intact in the state budget plan before the Legislature.
  • On health care, Chris Lilienthal wrote about news the state Senate plans to vote next week on expanding Medicaid coverage in Pennsylvania and what that would mean for uninsured veterans.
  • On the Marcellus Shale, Michael Wood blogged about a new report showing that a modest natural gas severance tax would raise twice as much revenue as Pennsylvania's local impact fee and do a better job keeping up with expected growth in natural gas production.
  • And on state budget and taxes, we highlighted recent news stories showing that momentum is building in Harrisburg to delay a tax cut for corporations next year in order to restore funding to public schools and other budget priorities.


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