A Look at the Fiscal Year that Was

With Pennsylvania's 2012-13 fiscal year in the rearview mirror, here is a look at how General Fund revenue collections compared to official estimates (click on the image for a larger view).

As you can see, monthly collections came in below projections almost as often as they came in above, with year-end receipts nearly $57 million ahead of the annual estimate. (The line tracks the cumulative annual surplus/deficit from month to month.)
2012-13 General Fund Revenue Surplus/(Deficit) by Month

$1 Trillion in Student Loan Debt Hampering Young Entrepreneurs

It appears more and more American college graduates are declining to start their own businesses due to the rising costs of tuition and crushing student loan debt. Bloomberg examines the obstacles facing young entrepreneurs:

Toshi Seeger and Respect for the Working Man and Woman

Toshi Seeger's obituary last week in The New York Times brought a smile to my face.

Toshi provided her husband, the folk singer Pete Seeger, with the organizational skills without which he would have not been so influential or commercially successful.

Toshi also kept him grounded. “I hate it when people romanticize him,” she said. “He’s like anybody good at his craft, like a good bulldozer operator.”

That simple sentiment works in both directions. It helped make sure Pete Seeger would not become too big for his britches. It also communicates deep respect for the bulldozer operator — and for hardworking people more generally.

Third and State This Week: Budget Analysis, Food Security Danger, Unremarkable Private Job Growth & Payday Lenders

This week at Third and State, we blogged about the state budget, the danger facing America's leading food security program, Pennsylvania's unremarkable private-sector job performance, and a gambit by payday lenders that backfired.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On state budget and taxes, Sharon Ward shared the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center's detailed analysis of the 2013-14 budget, and Michael Wood explained that tax changes enacted along with the budget made some steps toward reform but weigh the state's Tax Code down with more special interest tax breaks.
  • On the federal budget, Sharon Ward wrote that legislation separating agricultural programs from nutrition supports funded through the farm bill poses a threat to food assistance for millions of struggling parents, children, and vulnerable citizens.
  • On jobs, Stephen Herzenberg blogged that Pennsylvania’s private-sector job growth has almost stalled since about a year into Governor Corbett's term.
  • On consumer protection, Mark Price explained how payday lenders won few friends in the state Senate when they convinced House leaders to insert language into a must-pass Fiscal Code bill stating it was the intent of House and Senate leaders to enact payday legislation in the fall.

STATE BUDGET RESOURCES:

America’s Food Security Program in Danger

The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday voted 216-208 to pass a bill that separates agricultural support programs from nutrition supports funded through the farm bill.

The biggest of these programs is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. It is our nation’s first line of defense against hunger. If the program is weakened, millions of struggling parents, their children, and other vulnerable individuals will be harmed.

Pennsylvania’s Unremarkable Private-Sector Job Performance

Philadelphia Daily News Columnist John Baer is right to suggest that Governor Corbett’s jobs performance since January 2011 is less than “remarkable.”

Everything You Need to Know about 2013-14 Budget

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has released a full detailed analysis of the 2013-14 state budget plan spending $28.376 billion, roughly $645 million (or 2.3%) more than in the 2012-13 fiscal year.

Governor Tom Corbett signed the budget into law late in the evening of June 30, 2013. Overall, the plan is $64 million less than the Governor proposed in February, reflecting nearly $113 million in reduced spending for public school pensions and school employees’ Social Security payments along with a shift of $90 million in General Fund spending off budget to other funds.

2012-13 General Fund Summary
(in $ Millions)
  2012-13 2013-14 Gov. 2013-14 Final Change f/ 2012-13 % Change
General Fund $27,731 $28,440 $28,376 +$645 2.3%

Small Steps Toward Reform But Special Tax Breaks Remain

Among the final pieces of the 2013-14 budget package now before the Governor is a Tax Code bill that sets tax rates and makes permanent changes in tax law.

The bill, approved by the House and Senate last week, includes two very important provisions: 1) It maintains the capital stock and franchise tax, which was set to expire at the end of 2013, for two more years, and 2) For the first time, it takes steps to close the Delaware loophole — although not until 2015.

Payday Lenders Make Few Friends in PA Senate

Payday lenders convinced state House Republican leaders to slip a line into a Fiscal Code bill needed to implement aspects of the new state budget stating that it was the "intent" of House and Senate Republican leaders to pass legislation legalizing high-interest payday loans in Pennsylvania.

Third and State This Week: The PA Budget and Connecting the Dots Between Wage Growth and Unemployment

The week at Third and State, we blogged about the state budget, school funding, transportation funding, and the Medicaid expansion. Plus we shared a graphic connecting the dots between wage growth and unemployment.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On state budget and taxes, Chris Lilienthal blogged about passage of the $28.375 billion spending plan for 2013-14, and Sharon Ward shared her recent PennLive.com op-ed on the opportunity — and obligation — the Pennsylvania Senate had to really close corporate tax loopholes with this budget.
  • On school funding, Sharon Ward wrote that the Philadelphia School District will receive new state funding, but with strings attached that leave some key decisions in the hands of the state Secretary of Education.
  • On transportation, Michael Wood wrote about dueling House and Senate bills to provide between $2 billion and $2.5 billion for transportation projects. Neither plan was passed before the Legislature left for its summer recess.
  • On health care, Chris Lilienthal wrote about the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee's approval of legislation to expand Medicaid in Pennsylvania, the full Senate vote on the bill, and how the House derailed the effort before adjourning for the summer.
  • And on wages, Mark Price shared a graphic from Colin Gordon of the Iowa Policy Project illustrating the connection between unemployment and wage growth.

STATE BUDGET RESOURCES:

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